The European Commission will take legal action against any country that introduces controversial Fifa plans to limit the number of foreigners at European football clubs.
|Uefa's Michel Platini, left, looks to be on a collison |
course with Sepp Blatter's plan [AFP]
"The Commission is giving a red card to the 6+5 rule," EU Employment Commissioner Vladimir Spidla said, referring to the proposed rule limiting the number of foreign players starting any club match to five.
"If any country allows its soccer associations or leagues, they will be in violation of EU rules which would oblige the Commission to apply infringement proceedings (court action)."
However Fifa president Sepp Blatter has vowed to push ahead with his plans despite the EU executive's strongest warning yet over the implementation of the so-called "6+5" rule".
The Fifa boss remains committed to submitting the plan to Fifa's congress in Sydney on Friday, despite Brussels' assertion that it contravenes the 27-member bloc's laws on the free movement of workers and could end up before the European Court of Justice.
"The Fifa executive committee yesterday supported unanimously the objectives of the 6+5. We want to explore all possible means within the limits of the law to make sure that these objectives are reached," Blatter said in Sydney.
"Now, it is the moment for the Fifa Congress to express its views."
Earlier, the EU executive offered Fifa an olive branch by formally backing the "home-grown player rule" of European governing body Uefa, in a bid to avert Friday's vote.
"The agenda of the Fifa Congress has not changed and includes the 6+5," Blatter said.
"After intensive discussion, in-depth analysis and a report carried out by the European Commission, I can for the first time say that Uefa's so-called home-grown player rule is compatible with EU rules concerning free movement of workers," EU Sports Commissioner Jan Figel said.
"We think the Uefa rule is the best rule, but I can now offer even more intense and open dialogue with Sepp Blatter."
Uefa's home-grown player rule sets a quota of locally-trained players at clubs but without any discrimination on nationality.
But Fifa had said it opposed the rule arguing it encourages recruitment at a young age.
"The rules adopted by UEFA are necessary and proportionate. We cannot see any need for additional rules such imposing further restrictions on the transfer of young players," Figel said.
Uefa, which had warned Blatter his plans were "unworkable" in the EU, had hoped the move would have persuaded the Fifa chief not to put the issue to a vote, thus avoiding a showdown with Brussels and placing it in a difficult position.
"The key word is objective. The home-grown player rule achieves most of the objectives of 6+5, so hopefully FIFA will see this as a compromise, at least in Europe," William Gaillard, advisor to UEFA president Michel Platini said.
"This is huge step forward and shows Brussels is open to working to find a solution, once it is within the rules. They are not the enemy."
Whatever the outcome in Sydney, Uefa, which only enforces its home-grown player rule in its own club competitions such as the Champions League, said it would not be asking its associations to automatically impose its rule domestically.
"But we would encourage the associations to at least look at implementing such a rule which would allow them to develop, shape and grow their young players," Gaillard said.