FIFA logoSome people thought that it was not going to happen and yet during the recently held FIFA congress the new rule that will put a cap on the number of foreign players in a team’s starting eleven passed almost unanimously. The new rule known as the ‘6+5’ rule will force European clubs to limit their starting 11 to only 5 foreign players. The rule will take full effect in the 2012-13 season and it will only be applicable for domestic league play. However, we should keep in mind that would actually passed during the FIFA congress was a resolution to make this new rule into a FIFA law. The biggest obstacle to the ‘6+5’ rule being applied are European Union labor laws that considering that soccer players are legally workers (some very well paid nevertheless,) they should have the freedom to work for any European Union member country without restriction. So whether this new rule will ever come in effect remains to be seen.

FIFA hopes to make domestic leagues more competitive by establishing this new rule. Currently, most (if not all) domestic soccer leagues are dominated by 2-3 clubs that have the money to purchase the best foreign soccer players. This makes it difficult for the teams with smaller budgets to compete. This entails that some teams never manage to qualify for the more lucrative European soccer competitions such as Champions League and as a result can never improve their finances and become competitive. This is evident both in the more well know soccer leagues such as the Premiership and Serie A and the lesser known leagues such as the Greek Superleague.

Regardless as to whether the rule will ever take effect or not considering the EU objections as I mentioned earlier, if this rule were indeed to come in effect in the next 5 years then some European teams would be in a lot of trouble. Most prominent ones are Inter Milan and Arsenal. Both teams rely heavily on foreign players in order to be dominant in their home leagues. If the ‘6+5’ rule passes, it is very questionable if the two clubs will manage to remain as competitive as they currently are. Inter, for example, would have to revamp their midfield which is currently dominated by 6 foreign players while they would need to call a player from their second team to play striker for 90 minutes every game. Arsenal is a prime example of a team that can be seriously hurt by this rule considering that there were games this year that none of the starting players were English!

The rule is proposed to take effect in stages starting from the 2010-11 season restricting a team’s lineup to have 4 local and 7 foreign players. For each subsequent year, the number of local players will increase by one and the number of foreign soccer players decrease by one such that 3 years later during the 2012-13 season the ‘6+5’ rule will be in full effect.


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