Platini U18 transfer limit backed by clubs

BRUSSELS - The top clubs and leagues have backed UEFA chief Michel Platini's proposal to scrap international transfers in Europe for players under 18, European football's governing body said on Monday. Platini says an increase in the age limit is needed to fight the rising number of young players, notably from Africa and Latin America, being trafficked through Europe. However, any new rule must be approved by the European Union (EU) where 16 is the minimum legal age for cross-border transfers. "All four groups (associations, clubs, leagues and players) agreed on the principle there should be no international transfers of minors (under-18 players) either into Europe or within Europe," UEFA said in a statement. The agreement signed by UEFA, the European Club Association (representing 137 leading clubs such as Manchester United and Real Madrid), players union FIFPro and the European Premier Football Leagues also said players under-18 should sign their "first contract" with the club that developed them. Last month EU Sports Commissioner Jan Figel said he was willing to consider asking the EU's 27 governments to support Platini's plan if the former French international could provide evidence it would stop exploitation of young players. World football's governing body FIFA, which oversees international transfers, has also backed Platini's proposal.