FIFA President Sepp Blatter opened the world soccer governing body's 58th congress in Sydney on Thursday, and the main issue on the agenda is his proposed rule limiting the number of foreign players on club teams. Blatter wants to limit the number of foreigners starting a game for any one team to five by 2012.
"Football is touched by political dimension," Blatter told the
congress, alluding to what has become known as the '6+5' rule. "We are going to discuss tomorrow [measures)] to protect our game, to protect our national teams, to protect the national identity of
the clubs and to give motivation to young players." FIFA can impose the rule on all of its 208 associations if at least 75 per cent of its members vote in favor. Each member has one vote.
But the 27-member European Union has said all along that such a rule would violate its employment laws. "If any country allows its soccer associations or leagues [to implement the plan],
they will be in violation of EU rules which would oblige the Commission to apply infringement proceedings (court action)," EU Employment Commissioner Vladimir Spidla said in Brussels. Blatter,
however, is not convinced the proposal contravenes European laws because it merely restricts the number of foreign players who start each game, but doesn't restrict the number who sign contracts
with any given club.