Blatter buoyed by 6+5 report

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FIFA president Sepp Blatter has claimed a victory in his battle to limit the number of foreign players in matches.

A report by the Institute for European Affairs (INEA) - commissioned by FIFA to study the issue - claims the idea of restricting foreign players in league games through the '6+5' rule does not fall foul of EU rules on free movement of workers.

Blatter was delighted at the findings, saying: "This study confirms that we are not breaching European law in defending the 6+5 rule. On behalf of FIFA and its member associations, I would like to express my pleasure at this finding."

He added: "Through 6+5 we wish to encourage the development of young players, protect national teams and maintain competitiveness and the unpredictability of results. This is why 6+5 is beneficial to football."

The INEA's findings will now form the basis of fresh talks between FIFA and the European Commission.

The study was carried out by five professors, all experts in European law, and INEA chairman Professor Jurgen Gramke insisted the report, although commissioned by FIFA, was entirely independent.

The key point is that under FIFA's 6+5 proposals, each club must field at least six players eligible for the national team in the starting XI, but there is no limit on substitutes being foreign, or on the number of foreigners in a squad.

So far, the EC and most EU governments say it would amount to discrimination at work and a restriction on the free movement of workers.

Gramke said however: "There is no conflict with European law."

He added: "We took no instructions from FIFA. INEA accepted this commission on condition that our requirements of complete independence were met."

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

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