UEFA, FIFPro sign deal to avert another Bosman ruling

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BRUSSELS, Oct 11 (Reuters) European soccer's governing body UEFA signed a deal with the players' union FIFPro today in a bid to prevent a repeat of the landmark 'Bosman ruling' that left an indelible mark on the game.

UEFA president Michel Platini said he hoped the agreement, which covers areas such as transfers and players' rights, will pave the way to a similar accord with warring clubs who have resorted to Europe's top courts to settle their grievances.

''We already had an agreement like this with the leagues, we now have the agreement with the players, so finally we can now perhaps find an agreement with the clubs,'' Platini told Reuters television in an interview.

The G14, which represents 18 of Europe's most powerful clubs, has been at loggerheads with soccer's authorities over issues such as the release of players for international duty, the format of European competitions and the match calendar.

The lobby group, which includes the likes of Manchester United, Real Madrid and AC Milan, has pursued at least two court cases against world governing body FIFA over compensation for players injured while playing for their countries.

One case is currently pending at the European Court of Justice (ECJ) -- Europe's highest court.

''I don't want the tribunals or courts to decide the issues of our family,'' Platini said.

Today's deal between UEFA and FIFPro has no basis in European Union law but if problems arise regarding FIFPro players both sides have agreed to work out a solution without resorting to the courts.

''We are confident that this agreement will lead to us sorting out any problems ourselves. If there is arbitration to be done, it will be based on this deal,'' said FIFPro secretary-general Theo van Seggelen.

BLATTER PROPOSAL Both sides said they had come full circle since 1995 when the ECJ gave sports professionals in the European Union more freedom to change clubs in a decision known as the 'Bosman ruling'.

It was named after Belgian player Jean-Marc Bosman, who pursued the case that changed the face of the game.

''When I cam to power, I said it was necessary for all of the football family to sit around the table and when that happens we must recognise our officialisation and talk with each other to find our own solutions,'' Platini said.

FIFpro also agreed with Platini's view that FIFA president Sepp Blatter's proposal to limit the number of foreigners playing for clubs is unlikely to succeed in the EU due to the bloc's benchmark laws which allow free movement of labour.

''Of course, we agree with the principle that we must do everything we can to help young players, but this needs a lot more discussion and Mr Blatter needs to be careful when it comes to this in the EU,'' Van Seggelen said.

Platini reiterated his view from last week when he said he backed the ''philosophy'' behind Blatter's plans to cap the number of non-nationals in a team's starting 11 at five per match from 2010 but it would not be possible.

''I will not be fighting for that, this is impossible for the moment in the EU,'' he said.

Reuters PDS GC2125

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