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Following today's informal Sports Ministers' meeting in Biarritz, Commissioners Ján Figel' and Vladimir Špidla issued the following statement

28/11/2008 Following today's informal Sports Ministers' meeting in Biarritz, Commissioners Ján Figel' and Vladimir Špidla issued the following statement

We understand and sympathise with FIFA's—and others'—concerns to bring more balance to the game of football. We just differ about the means to achieve it.

Our position is clear: FIFA's '6+5' Rule is based on direct discrimination on the grounds of nationality, and is thus against one of the fundamental principles of EU law.

Following the conclusions of today's Sports Ministers' meeting, we in the European Commission remain open to discuss ways and means of bringing more balance to the game of football together with FIFA and other interested parties to find a solution that would be compatible with EU law.

On a more general level, the European Commission is also offering strengthened dialogue mechanisms with the International Olympic Committee and representatives of the international sport movement.

As regards the transfer of players under the age of eighteen, the Commission shares the concerns expressed by sports stakeholders about the protection of minors and the promotion of training of young sportspeople.

Our general approach in the area of sport is to leave questions of organisation to the sports bodies themselves, as long as their rules are compatible with EU law.

We would need to analyse the detail of the proposals made by Mr Platini on behalf of UEFA before taking any final position. We have a long history of working closely and cooperatively with UEFA to find solutions, and we look forward to sitting down with them soon to consider in more detail their ideas.

However, free movement of workers is a fundamental principle of the EU. And a proposal to ban all transfers of under 18's would, at first sight, appear to constitute indirect discrimination in the field of free movement of workers and could be disproportionate in light of the objectives pursued."