Blatter presses on with foreign quota plan

Fifa president Sepp Blatter will forge ahead with plans to curb the number of foreign players at soccer clubs, saying on Tuesday that the organisation should coral the world of sport into helping make it happen.

The Swiss head of world soccer’s governing body insisted that Fifa would not be “going into confrontation” with any employment laws by pursuing the foreign quota proposal and that they should explore all means possible to implement it as a rule.

Blatter’s so-called “6+5” proposal—which would limit the number of foreign players to start any club match to five—has sparked a battle of ideologies in global soccer.

Opponents say it would be an unworkable regulation which contravenes the European Union’s free movement of workers rules.

Blatter, however, insists foreign quotas are necessary to ensure the sport’s growth and well-being and to prevent a handful of rich clubs dominating honours.

Given the weight of legal opposition to his plans, it had been suggested Blatter would merely ask the congress this week for a mandate to examine the issue further, representing something of a climbdown from asking it to endorse the plan.

Speaking at a Fifa executive committee meeting in Sydney on Tuesday, the Swiss insisted this was not the case, however, though what he will ask congress for is to “explore all possible means within the limits of law” to make it happen.

‘More than talk’

“It is more than just further talks and investigation,” Blatter insisted.

“We say that the congress shall request the Fifa and UEFA presidents together with the world of sport, including the International Olympic Committee and international sports federations to explore—not only to discuss—to explore all possible means within the limits of law to implement this rule.

“I can tell you now already that on June 5, I have a meeting with the president of the European Parliament in Brussels.

“So now we go to our congress [to make] its resolution but again I say we are not going into confrontation because we are exploring all these means and possibilities in respect of laws.

“It is not only European laws, there are other laws, national laws or supranational laws.”

Blatter is not convinced that his proposal would contravene European laws because it merely restricts the number of foreign players who start each game and does not place any restrictions on the number of foreign players who sign contracts with clubs.

Collision course

He hopes to introduce the quota from 2010 with a minimum of four home players, going up to five in 2011 and the full six by 2012.

The issue had set Blatter on a collision course with European soccer’s governing body UEFA as well as the European Parliament.

UEFA chief Michel Platini had made it clear he was not prepared to “burn his fingers in Brussels” with what he considers an “impossible” ruling.

Blatter’s comments on Tuesday suggests he feels he may have a case to impose the ruling without contravening any laws. - Reuters

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