NASSAU - FIFA president Sepp Blatter faces a tricky tactical decision over whether to push forward with his radical plan to restrict club teams to five foreign players. Blatter has to deal with resistance from European federations concerned about the legality of the plan in European labour law. The 'six plus five' proposal is on the agenda for Wednesday's congress in the Bahamas although a FIFA spokesman said it was not clear whether any vote would be held on a timetable for the plan. UEFA president Michel Platini said it would be impossible to support a timetable at this stage. "If there is a vote on the calendar then we abstain. To have a calendar we need to know if it is legal or illegal," he told reporters on Monday. "It is not about FIFA or about football at all. It is about European Union law," he added, stressing that he backed the principle behind the proposal. European federations met on Monday and said they would not back the plan, Belgian Football Association president Francois De Keersmaeker told reporters. "If there is a vote then the European countries will abstain," De Keersmaeker said. "There is support for the idea but it is not legal and we need to work with the European Commission and the EU to find a solution," he said. The plan would have a dramatic impact on the top leagues in Europe, such as England's Premier League and Germany's Bundesliga, where there are record numbers of foreign players. Chelsea's starting line-up in their FA Cup final victory over Everton on Saturday featured just three English players. Last year's FIFA Congress in Sydney voted 155-5 in favour of Blatter pursuing the plan, with 40 abstentions. With Europeans unwilling to move forward at this stage, Blatter must decide whether to risk a division with UEFA over the issue. However, Blatter and Platini are allies and it is unlikely the FIFA chief would want a conflict with the Frenchman who is also a member of his own executive. Blatter's original idea was for a switch to a maximum of seven foreigners in 2010, six in 2011 and then finally at five in 2012 but it is hard to see how such a timetable could be implemented at the moment.
1 June 2009
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