FIFA pressing ahead with 6+5 plan

ZURICH - FIFA will press ahead with plans to increase the number of home-grown players at clubs after a study said the idea was compatible with European law. The 6+5 proposal, where clubs would have to field six players eligible for their league's national side, had stalled after European Union chiefs said it breached the bloc's strict rules on free movement of workers.

A legal study conducted by the Institute for European Affairs (INEA) has offered hope to FIFA.

"At least what we can say with the study is that our approach is not incompatible with European law," FIFA President Sepp Blatter told reporters on Friday after a meeting of the world governing body's executive committee.

"Can you imagine what would happen if all political entities in the world... made the same intervention in sports as the EU? There would be no international sports."

If the 6+5 idea is finally defeated, Blatter said the battle for its adoption would have fringe benefits.

"The autonomy of sport, this is the objective. The objective is not 6+5. Already you can see it more and more -- local players are playing for local clubs," he said.

As well as taking on the EU, FIFA is at loggerheads with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) over the whereabouts rule.

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Under the strict new requirements, athletes have to inform their national anti-doping authorities of their location for an hour every day.

"We thought with WADA everything was okay. But now we are a bit surprised by certain declarations by WADA that there will be no exceptions for any sports," Blatter said.

"It is not a question of not fighting doping, but one should not go in for witch-hunting as this has never had a good outcome."

FIFA wants the whereabouts rule to apply to teams and not individual players. It also says out-of-competition doping tests should take place at club training facilities and that players should not be tested during holidays.

Other issues discussed at the meeting included the FIFA financial report which showed the organisation increased revenues to $957 million last year from 882 million in 2007.

FIFA is confident the global recession will not greatly impact the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, where ticket sales are going well. Confederations Cup sales for this June are struggling, however.

World Cup deadlines were also agreed. Players must be released between May 17-23, 2010 with a final list of 23 squad players named on June 1 ahead of the first match on June 11.

Injured players can be replaced 24 hours before the kick off of their first match and replacements will not have to come from a preliminary 30-man squad announced by May 11.

The protection of minors, specifically stopping under-18 players from being transferred, was discussed and will be on the agenda again at the FIFA Congress in Nassau in June.

Delegates in Nassau will also decide if Olympic soccer tournaments remain under-23 or become under-21 competitions.