| Wednesday, October 30, 2002 15:08 EST
Soccer governing bodies would try to control number of foreigners
ZURICH, Switzerland -- FIFA and UEFA have
agreed to work together when lobbying the European Union,
especially on matters relating to player quotas at European
"In future we will be consulting each other and talking
together to avoid any misunderstandings," said FIFA's director
of communications Marcus Siegler.
The announcement came after a recent meeting between world
soccer's governing body and its European counterpart and
followed newspaper reports that FIFA president Sepp Blatter had
proposed a quota of six home players to control the number of
foreigners in European teams.
Siegler said the greater level of consultation with UEFA was
a step forward for both sides.
"We think alike on this, but we know that it is very
difficult to protect young players in the present system," he
"We know that it is much cheaper for the clubs to sign
foreigners than it is to educate their own young players."
Siegler said it would be difficult for FIFA or UEFA to find
a way of changing the system in Europe that permitted free
movement of labor and allowed clubs to sign as many
non-European players as they like.
Teams such as Real Madrid, AC Milan, Manchester United or
Bayern Munich can pack their teams with players not qualified to
play for the national team of their club's country.
At times these clubs have fielded up to an entire team of
imported foreign players.
As a result, young home-raised players have suffered
restricted opportunities while players willing to move abroad
have enjoyed much greater scope.
But the subject of quotas is unlikely to be discussed this
week during what is the first round of meetings for FIFA's
reconstituted committees since Blatter was re-elected president
for a second term on the eve of the World Cup finals.
"They will talk about transfer problems, but they will first
discuss unemployed players," said FIFA spokesman Alan Lieblang.
"There was a decision made in mid-September that unemployed
players could sign for clubs.
"They will also discuss various problems in different
countries, where there are different regulations. They all have
their own regulations concerning transfers and this is a
"That (quotas) will not be discussed during this committee
meeting, but it could be discussed in the future."
Siegler confirmed the issue of player quotas was not on the
agenda. He said the main issues to be considered were a review
of refereeing standards at the World Cup finals and the physical
condition of the players in Japan and Korea during World Cup
There was widespread concern during the World Cup that many
players, particularly those with European clubs, were exhausted
after a packed season and not fit for the demands of the World
However, he did concede the issue of player quotas could be
introduced at the last moment in 'other business'.
Siegler added that FIFA shared UEFA's concern at the lack of
opportunities given to young players in the current European
system and supported the view that there should be an agreed
quota for the number of foreign and home players in each team.
But he conceded that there was little either body could do
in the current situation.
"We hope we can work together to create some proposals in
the future and to lobby in support of them with UEFA," he said.
"We anticipate we may be able to put something forward for
consideration in the next round of European legislation in 2003
According to UEFA spokesman Mike Lee, any new proposal would
need to put the accent on young home-raised players coached in
the club's own academies and not put any stress on nationality.
Lee also said such proposals had received preliminary
encouragement from the EU.
He added that proposals suggesting that at least six members
of a team had at all times to be eligible for the national team
of that country would be unworkable and not worthy of discussion
with the EU under the present system.
The suggestion that teams could be restricted to players of
certain nationalities was made unworkable by the Bosman ruling
But it remained possible a system could be introduced
whereby, in UEFA club competitions, six of the 25 players
registered in a squad had to be graduates of the club's youth
UEFA is currently preparing a licensing system for
introduction in 2004-5 that will stipulate required criteria in
standards of youth development for all clubs entering European
While it may not satisfy those like Blatter seeking to
reduce dramatically the number of foreigners in each team, it
could be a step towards a better balance.