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Defiant FIFA boss confident of getting ´6+5´ quota to work

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 30 May 2008

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Sepp Blatter is convinced Europe will come on board and agree with his foreign player quota for club teams after an overwhelming endorsement by the FIFA Congress Friday.

The Congress gave the FIFA president and his executive committee sweeping support to explore the controversial system of six home-grown players and a maximum of five foreigners, known as 'six plus five'.

Only this week the European Commission rejected Blatter's call for a curb on the number of foreign players aimed at protecting the identity of national teams, warning it would contravene EU labour rules.

But Blatter, armed with a 155 to five vote support from the floor of the Congress, has been emboldened to press on.

He said he would meet next week with the chairman of the European parliament Hans-Gert Poettering in Brussels to get his views on the issue.

“Why should we be afraid when I have been given the opportunity to speak with the chairman of the European parliament to explore it,” Blatter said after the 58th FIFA Congress.

“Why should we be afraid to explore our views in the movement of football of one billion people?

“And now with the resolution made by the FIFA Congress we have good arguments to convince those in Europe that they should look at the solidarity. We are looking for solidarity not confrontation.

“We have the support of people like (Franz) Beckenbauer, (Johann) Cruyff, Michel Platini, Pele, all the great names of football and it shall not be possible to convince them?

“I'm sure it will be done.”

English Football Association (FA) chief executive Brian Barwick is not so sure and warned FIFA the quota plan faces huge hurdles.

“Certainly, we can understand the general principle of a further exploration, but we are keen exponents of things staying within domestic and international law,” Barwick told reporters here.

“What I am trying to do is state a principle here that European law at the moment is pretty exacting on these issues and unless those type of hurdles can be overcome there are still issues to take forward.

“So further exploration, yes, but where it will end up, who knows?”

England, which had three teams in the semi-finals of this year's European Champions League in Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool, will likely feel the brunt of FIFA's plans.

The resolution enables Blatter and his UEFA counterpart, Platini, to explore all possible means within current laws to ensure the system is met.

Blatter is seeking the quota amid fears about the number of foreign players switching nationalities to play for different national teams, along with the competitiveness of club competitions.

He told the Congress that he hoped to introduce the system from 2010 with a minimum of four home players, going up to five in 2011 and the full six by 2012.

Platini, who spoke in favour of the motion, acknowledged it was a difficult issue.

He said although he did not have full agreement at UEFA, the European governing body, because of the risk of it being overturned in court, he had decided to “unanimously” support the resolution.

“The 30 European associations are in a difficult situation as they run the risk of being taken to court over this thorny issue,” Platini told the Congress.

In other decisions, FIFA ratified an agreement with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to fight drugs in football and approved changes to laws covering players' eligibility to play for national teams.

Congress also approved the principle of promotion and relegation, to ensure teams can only be promoted on the basis of their sporting achievements and not for monetary reasons.

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