Platini and Blatter to meet over quota plans

MOSCOW Tue May 20, 2008 6:09pm BST

UEFA President Michel Platini smiles during a news conference at the Geneva Press Club in Geneva April 29, 2008. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

UEFA President Michel Platini smiles during a news conference at the Geneva Press Club in Geneva April 29, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Denis Balibouse

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MOSCOW (Reuters) - FIFA President Sepp Blatter will meet his UEFA counterpart Michel Platini on Wednesday in an attempt to settle their differences over Blatter's controversial plan for limits on overseas players.

Blatter has insisted for months that he would ask the FIFA Congress in Sydney at the end of this month to endorse the so-called '6+5 ruling' allowing club teams to start a match with no more than five foreign players.

However, the European Union has warned the rule proposed by world soccer's governing body would conflict with its own laws on the free movement of labour, risking court action.

A UEFA source told Reuters on Tuesday that Blatter would still present the idea to FIFA's 208 members in Sydney but will now ask them merely for a mandate to examine the idea further.

"This is not the same as asking Congress to impose the ruling," the source said.

"...it will be something of a climbdown because he will just ask them for a mandate and he will not ask Congress to agree to implement the quota system with a start date from 2010."

FIFA declined to comment on its position, which has been unchanged since its Congress in Zurich a year ago approved examining the idea.

Last November, FIFA's executive committee in Durban voted to put the proposal before the Congress in Sydney.

Despite opposition in some quarters to the plan, Blatter has not changed his stance on the issue.

CONCRETE PROPOSAL

Earlier this month, he told Reuters in an interview: "Congress will receive a concrete proposal to start the quotas from 2010 with at least four national players on the pitch, going up to five players in 2011 and the full six by 2012.

"I will also ask the Congress for a mandate to take the issue up with the other main political and sporting bodies."

Platini told a news conference after a two-day UEFA Executive Committee meeting here that European soccer's ruling body agreed with the quotas proposal in principle.

"The objectives are very good, and I have said that many times," he told reporters.

"However, they are completely illegal under EU legislation. I will be having a meeting with Mr Blatter tomorrow before the Champions League final about how he intends to deal with this matter at the FIFA Congress at the end of the month."

The '6+5 ruling', as well as risking alienating UEFA, was dealt a blow on May 8 when the European Parliament voted against the proposals.

EU lawmakers rejected the plan by 518 votes to 49 but most backed UEFA's 'home-grown player rule', which sets a quota of locally-trained players at clubs but without discrimination on nationality.

UEFA wants a deal with Brussels on that rule but FIFA opposes the idea, arguing it would encourage the recruitment of players at a young age.

To change FIFA's rules Blatter needs 75 percent support at the Congress in Sydney, where each of FIFA's 208 national member associations who are eligible have one vote each.

(Editing by Ken Ferris)

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