FIFA’s 6+5 Rule under EU Law: exemption or justification?

Storey, Tony (2010) FIFA’s 6+5 Rule under EU Law: exemption or justification? In: Socio-Legal Studies Association Conference, 31 March - 1 April 2010, University of the West of England, Bristol, UK.

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In February 2008, FIFA President Sepp Blatter announced the “6+5 rule”. The effect of the rule is that, from the start of the 2012/2013 football season, all clubs will be required to include in their starting teams six players eligible to play for the national team, meaning that a maximum of five “foreign” players can be included in the starting team. Sepp Blatter said in justification of the 6+5 rule: "Over the years and decades, by signing more and more foreign players, clubs have gradually lost their identity, first locally and regionally."

This paper will examine the “6+5” rule in order to determine whether it falls within the scope of EU law or whether it could attract exemption on the basis of the “purely sporting” rule introduced by the ECJ in case 36/74 Walrave & Koch. It will be argued that, because of the potential implications of the “6+5” rule, it transcends a rule of “purely sporting” interest and therefore falls within the scope of EU law.

The paper will then examine the compatibility of the “6+5” rule with relevant provisions of the TFEU. Consideration will in particular be given to the question whether the rule amounts to direct or indirect discrimination on grounds of nationality, which in turn determines whether or not the rule is capable of being justified on the basis of overriding reasons of public interest, as in the recent case C-325/08 Olympique Lyonnais. Comparisons will be drawn between the “6+5” rule and UEFA’s “homegrown player” rule.

The paper will conclude that the “6+5” rule constitutes an unjustifiable form of direct discrimination and hence prohibited by EU law.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: M100 Law by area
Department: Faculties > Business and Law > Northumbria Law School
Depositing User: Tony Storey
Date Deposited: 20 Jun 2012 15:23
Last Modified: 13 Oct 2019 00:37

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