MADRID - Africans playing in the Primera Liga will no longer occupy berths allocated for non-European Union players after a change in regulations approved by the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF).
The RFEF gave the green light to the change after consulting with Fifa and Uefa following inquiries by Real Madrid and Getafe as to whether their African players could be treated as European Union workers in accordance with an agreement signed in 2000.
The Cotonu accord, which was signed in Benin by the EU and the 77 members of the Association of African, Caribbean and Pacific states in 2000 and ratified by the Spanish parliament in April last year, agreed to treat workers from those nations as EU citizens.
At present Primera Liga clubs are limited to three non-European Union players registered in their squads, but the new move will free up a number of places occupied by Africans.
The move would also apply to future signings from the Caribbean and the Pacific.
"From now on players from these countries that play in Spain will be considered as coming from the European Union as will those that sign in the future," RFEF spokesman Jorge Carretero was quoted as saying in sports daily Marca on Saturday.
Players affected by the move include Real Madrid's Mali midfielder Mahamadou Diarra, Barcelona's Cameroon striker Samuel Eto'o and Getafe's Nigerian forward Ikechukwu Uche. - Reuters