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Context of 'November 27, 2006: FIFA President Blatter Discusses Video Replays, Restrictions on Foreigners, and Foreign Ownership in Speech'

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FIFA and the International Federation of Professional Footballers (FIFPro) sign a memorandum of understanding stating that FIFA and FIFPro have agreed to introduce FIFA’s proposed “6+5” regulations over the course of several seasons. Under the plan each club side would have to have six players qualified to represent the national association to which the club belonged at the start of each match. The other five and all the substitutes could then be foreigners. The plan is controversial because it is a clear breach of regulations on the free movement of labour set out in Article 39 of the Treaty of Rome, which governs the operation of the European Union. [World Sports Law Report, 12/6/2006]

Entity Tags: Fédération Internationale des Associations de Footballeurs Professionnels, International Federation of Association Football

Timeline Tags: Football Business and Politics

FIFA president Sepp Blatter makes a speech to the Soccerex conference in Dubai about a range of current topics. On the issue of video replays, he says he will never allow matches to be halted as long as he remains FIFA president. However, he remains open to goalline technology, provided it delivers an instant answer, and he thinks it may be ready for introduction at the Club World Championship in Tokyo in December 2007. Blatter also dicusses his “6+5” proposal to limit the number of foreigners clubs field. “We believe six plus five will give more incentive to young players,” says Blatter. “All the big clubs have youth departments but there is no chance for these players to play in the first team.… The big clubs with a lot of money can afford to buy the best players. They have 20, 25, sometimes 30 on their list but only 11 can play. What are the others doing? Waiting? Recuperating? Or taking away the chance for other teams to have a better starting eleven? What these rich clubs are doing is taking the best out of market, then not letting them play. Look at the results in some European leagues. Some clubs are already far away after a third of the season, the others can only play to avoid relegation, not for the title. Something is wrong about this.” Blatter also warns of foreign investors buying English clubs, saying: “England must be a very attractive league for investors to take over whole clubs. As long as they are promoting the game in a sensitive way, we are not concerned. But if they are arriving to take the best out of football, rather than to serve it, again something is wrong because when you have so much money, it leads to a distortion as far as the other clubs are concerned.” [Daily Mail, 11/27/2006]

Entity Tags: International Federation of Association Football, Joseph S. Blatter

Timeline Tags: Football Business and Politics

FIFA president Sepp Blatter gives an interview to the German magazine Kicker on a number of reforms for the world game. Blatter thinks that the football season should begin in late February and finish at the end of November, with the longer winter break being used for national team games. “I’ve just proposed to the clubs: play through the summer, make the season like the calendar year,” says Blatter. “This would leave enough time for players to recover and there could be blocks of three weeks of qualifying games in winter.” He claims, “This idea is supported by big European clubs.” In addition, in World Cup qualifying he wants more European groups with less teams qualifying from each group; this would lead to fewer games for national teams, which is what big clubs want. Blatter also expresses support for his “6+5” idea to limit the number of foreigners club teams field. “The ‘6 5’ is coming, for sure,” he says, although it is only to be applied in Europe. “First, it will bring a higher identification between clubs and fans. Second, it would raise the opportunities for talents. And third, the clubs’ finances would benefit if they take players from their own schools.” Such a rule is controversial, because it is contrary to well-established European Union regulations on the free movement of labour. Therefore, Blatter appeals to the EU to stay out of football, although he would like government help creating more transparency in financial structures in international football and its transfer market. Blatter also rejects calls for a salary cap. [Associated Press, 12/4/2006]

Entity Tags: International Federation of Association Football, Joseph S. Blatter

Timeline Tags: Football Business and Politics

On the eve of a crucial European Parliament vote on FIFA’s “6+5” rule to limit the number of foreigners fielded by football clubs, the organization’s president Sepp Blatter holds a roundtable with journalists to promote the regulation. Blatter says that the rule is intended to “protect minors, protect youth training, adapt the transfer system to today’s realities, and ensure tighter control over the actions of players’ agents.” In addition, it will help keep national teams strong and allow youth players to play for their original clubs. Blatter says the rule does not conflict with well-established European Union legislation on the free movement of labor, because “[c]lubs will still be free to take on as many foreign players as they want. When a match kicks off however, they will have to have six players on the pitch who are eligible for the national team of the country in question.” Blatter is critical of UEFA’s 4+4 “home-grown player rule,” as it “does not protect players who are eligible for the national team of the club in question,” and under this system “the richest clubs would merely have to buy players at an even younger age than they are currently doing.” He also points out that on average the five main European leagues (Germany, England, Spain, France, and Italy) already mostly comply with the “6+5” rule, so it would not make much difference to them anyway. Blatter claims that 80 percent of revenues generated by the Champions League go to the competing clubs, and that the “6+5” rule would lead to more equitable distribution, although the mechanism by which this would occur is unclear. Blatter acknowledges that there will be problems implementing the rule, but cites support from other sports organizations and says FIFA needs “to convince the world and the media.” [FIFA, 5/7/2008] The European Parliament vote will go against the “6+5” rule 518 to 49 (see May 8, 2008).

Entity Tags: International Federation of Association Football, Joseph S. Blatter

Timeline Tags: Football Business and Politics

The European Parliament votes 518 to 49 against allowing football authorities to implement the “6+5” proposal, which would limit the number of foreigners fielded by football clubs. The “6+5” rule was championed by FIFA, in particular its president Sepp Blatter (see November 27, 2006 and December 4, 2006). However, the parliament approves the “home-grown player rule” pur forward by UEFA. The “home-grown player rule” is different in that it is the country in which the player was trained, not his nationality that is decisive. Opposition to the “6+5” rule is grounded in the fact that it is in clear conflict with European Union legislation on the free movement of labour (see November 2, 2006). [Independent, 5/9/2008]

Entity Tags: European Parliament

Timeline Tags: Football Business and Politics

A report ordered by FIFA from the Institute for European Affairs (INEA) is published stating that FIFA’s “6+5” rule to limit the number of foreigners fielded by football clubs is not illegal under Europan Union law, despite repeated European Union statements to the contrary (see May 8, 2008 and November 28, 2008). “There is no conflict with European law,” INEA chairman Professor Jurgen Gramke tells a press conference. “The 6+5 rule does not impinge on the core area of the right to freedom of movement. The rule is merely a rule of the game declared in the general interest of sport in order to improve the sporting balance between clubs and associations.” The report says that, at worst, the 6+5 rule could constitute “indirect discrimination” because “it is not directly based on the nationality of professional players.” [Institute for European Affairs, 10/24/2008 pdf file; Daily Telegraph, 2/26/2009]

Entity Tags: Institute for European Affairs, Jurgen Gramke

Timeline Tags: Football Business and Politics

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