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Legal experts back FIFA 6+5 Rule
March 1, 2009, 9:41 AM
Filed under: FIFA, MLS

BRUSSELS — Efforts by FIFA to introduce national quotas for footballers playing for European club teams would not violate EU laws, according to a report drafted by legal experts released Thursday.

“There is no conflict with European law,” said legal expert Juergen Gramke, after presenting his report to lawmakers at the European Parliament.

Gramke headed a study into the FIFA plan conducted by the Dusseldorf, Germany-based Institute for European Affairs. FIFA commissioned the study.

FIFA’s so called “six plus five” rule would force clubs to start matches with at least six players eligible to play for the national team and a maximum of just five foreigners.

Players from all over the world ply their trade in Europe’s wealthy football leagues and many of the top teams regularly feature more than five foreigners.

Officials have said that restrictions on soccer players who hold a European Union passport would contravene laws that guarantee the free movement of labour within the EU.

The study concluded that EU law provides for the “regulatory autonomy” of sporting associations like FIFA. However the EU has strongly objected to any opt-out for FIFA or other sporting bodies, arguing that footballers are wage-earners and have the same employment rights as other workers in the 27-nation bloc.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter welcomed Thursday’s report.

“This study confirms that we are not breaching European law in defending the six plus five rule,” he said in a statement.

“Through six plus five, we wish to encourage the development of young players, protect national teams and maintain competitiveness and the unpredictability of results. This is why six plus five is beneficial to football.”

He said the plan was also backed by the International Olympic Committee and by other team sports like basketball, ice hockey and rugby, which “all face the same problems.”

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