EU gives Fifa a red card

BRUSSELS - The European Parliament called on Fifa last Thursday to scrap its plan to reintroduce limits on foreign players in club competitions.

BRUSSELS - The European Parliament called on Fifa last Thursday to scrap its plan to reintroduce limits on foreign players in club competitions.

The world soccer federation has advocated a new regulation in which a team's 11-man starting lineup should include six players from the club's nation. That defies the 1995 so-called Bosman ruling which said that discrimination on the grounds of nationality is illegal in European soccer.

The EU's employment law upholds the principle of freedom of movement of workers, which allows EU soccer players to have equal status regardless of which member nation they play in.

The European soccer federation, UEFA, advocates a system different from the one Fifa wants, seeking to keep local flavour in club teams while adhering to the Bosman law.

Over the past two seasons, teams playing in UEFA's continental competitions have had to include a set number of players groomed by the club and another number trained in the national league. By not specifically mentioning a nationality, the regulation sidesteps the Bosman rule.

In a paper on EU sports policy, the European Parliament backed the UEFA approach.

"Fifa wants to oblige clubs to invest more in 'home-grown' talent, a goal which we support 100 percent. Unfortunately, however, the 'six-plus-five' rule is not compatible with the free movement of persons in the EU," said Belgian lawmaker Ivo Belet.

"We therefore ask Fifa to join forces with the European Parliament and the European Commission and fully back the 'home-grown' rule." - Sapa-AP

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