Football: Blatter urges Europe to revisit foreign player limits

Outgoing Fifa president Sepp Blatter delivering a speech ahead of the preliminary draw for the 2018 World Cup qualifiers.
Outgoing Fifa president Sepp Blatter delivering a speech ahead of the preliminary draw for the 2018 World Cup qualifiers. PHOTO: AFP

ZURICH (REUTERS) - Outgoing Fifa president Sepp Blatter wants European football to look again at stricter limits on foreigners, saying each club should have six players in their starting lineups who are eligible for the national side.

Although European Union law considers such limits as nationality discrimination, Blatter believes Russia's recent move to have five players eligible for their national team on the pitch in league games can be copied.

"In my opinion this scenario remains open to western Europe too," the Swiss wrote in his column for Fifa Weekly.

"The principle of freedom of movement could still be upheld because there are only 11 players on the pitch whereas squads contain up to 30 players. It is one thing to have a contract but quite another to be on the field of play.

"With a little goodwill we could again take up the idea of quotas for foreign players and seriously consider implementing it," he added.

Blatter noted that England's FA has been keen to address the shortage of domestic talent in the Premier League and said his previous attempt to bring in a '6+5 rule', abandoned in 2010, may still be workable.

"It would have been possible to implement the change in Europe with the support of the wider football community," he wrote.

"In England in particular the issue is still a topic of much discussion as, in order for their national team to be able to compete at the highest level again, a certain 'conservation' of domestic players is indispensable."

Blatter will step down when a new president of scandal-hit Fifa, world football's ruling body, is elected on Feb 26, 2016.