May 24, 2018 / 3:05 PM / 9 months ago

UEFA wants EU to think again on free movement rules

KIEV (Reuters) - UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin says he wants the European Union to revisit their rules on free movement of labour and the issue of whether football - and sport in general - should be given an exemption.

Britain Football Soccer - UEFA EURO 2020 Launch Event - London City Hall - 21/9/16 UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin during the launch Action Images via Reuters / Tony O'Brien

Ceferin, who met with EU sports ministers in Brussels this week, told reporters after the governing body’s Executive Committee meeting on Thursday that free movement for players, which rules out the chance for limits on imported talent, is contributing to the lack of balance in European football.

“There are some things that we said should be done or at least discussed. For example, the free movement of the workforce - is it the time to say that not just footballers but athletes are an exemption?” the Slovenian asked.

“They should think about it because it harms the competitive balance. If players, or young children, from small clubs or small countries leave very early it harms the competitive balance,” he added.

Ceferin has made addressing the inequalities in the European game a central issue and says he wants the help of European Union officials in addressing the matter.

“We presented the problems that we have and where we need their support. We started the discussions but I can’t offer any solutions now.

“We had the first meeting. I made a speech and we had a round-table with all the Ministers of Sports of the European Union and let’s see how it develops, in any case we need some involvement from the European Union,” he added.

In the past, EU bodies have rejected attempts by football authorities to impose restrictions on the movement of players across borders.

The issue has also been raised in the context of young players moving to foreign clubs while still playing at a junior level.

The issue of a ‘sporting exemption’, treating players and athletes differently from workers in other industries, has been raised in the past by Ceferin’s predecessors and former FIFA president Sepp Blatter, there has been no movement on the issue from the EU.

In his Brussels speech on Wednesday, Ceferin urged EU officials to support his effort to bring about more competitive balance in the game.

“You should share this objective that we strive to meet: the openness and unpredictability of competitions,” he said.

“Do not sit idly by... do not adopt a wait-and-see policy,” he added.

Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Christian Radnedge

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