Blatter still wants quotas despite EU law

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DURBAN, Nov 25 (Reuters) FIFA President Sepp Blatter said today he still wanted to limit the number of overseas players in club sides despite opposition from leading clubs and current European Union law.

Blatter has long opposed the loss of local identity at many clubs and has repeatedly called for a limit on the number of foreigners with at least six homegrown players in a team's starting lineup.

Before today's draw for the preliminary round of the 2010 World Cup finals, Blatter told a news conference his proposal to introduce his ''6 plus 5'' plan would be put before the next FIFA Congress in Sydney next year after being discussed by the executive committee.

''Can FIFA impose a quota system worldwide for the better development of national team players ? The answer is definitely yes, if there is the will and determination of the FIFA Congress,'' Blatter said.

For Blatter's plan to be implemented, however, the new EU treaty currently being formulated by member states, would have to include an exceptional ruling for sport.

Blatter said his plan would only succeed if FIFA was able ''to convince the purists in the application of European law.

European law cannot rule the world as far as football is concerned''.

''But football has the opportunity now to deal with this problem. A lot of people around the world are saying, yes please do it, even the owners of the clubs are saying this.'' The debate about imposing limits on overseas players has never entirely disappeared, despite being one of the key issues of the Bosman Ruling of 1995 which enshrined the concept of free movement across broders for all EU workers including footballers.

It was re-ignited again recently by Steve Coppell, the manager of English Premier League side Reading after they were beaten by league leaders Arsenal who regularly field sides without one English player in their starting line-up.

The issue has also been widely debated in England this week following England's 3-2 loss to Croatia which eliminated them from next year's European Championship finals.

One theory for England's defeat was that so many overseas players are now appearing regularly for England's top clubs that the talent pool for the England team is diminishing at an alarming rate.

REUTERS PDS BST1942

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