By Simon Hart
UEFA has urged its member associations to embrace proposals to "create a level playing field" by introducing a Europe-wide policy on clubs using homegrown players.
Majority in favour
UEFA vice-president Per Ravn Omdal told association chiefs in Brussels that the majority of the continent's clubs and leagues were in favour of the proposals unveiled back in July, which called for the inclusion of at least seven or eight homegrown players out of the 18 on a club's teamsheet for any given match.
Omdal, in his closing address on the second and final day of the 2nd UEFA Seminar on the European Union, said: "I dare to say that the discussions so far with the clubs and the leagues and the professionals have shown us that the majority of the clubs and the majority of the leagues are in favour and we should take that on board."
'Local training of players'
Omdal, who is chairman of UEFA's working group on EU matters, added: "For me it is a question of believing in something, doing it and trying to implement it." UEFA hopes the policy - which would also limit to 25 the number of players in every squad - will be adopted ahead of next season. Omdal's words followed a presentation by Gianni Infantino, UEFA's director of legal services, which looked at the question of 'Investing in Local Training of Players'.
Better chance to compete
Infantino told representatives of the 35 national associations present that: "
This project is about helping to create a level playing field. We want to introduce here a system whereby somebody with less money but a serious training programme has a better chance than today to compete at the top level. This project is not about quotas or foreigners or nationality or reversing Bosman."
He also addressed quotas on non-EU players, an issue that he described as complex and fragmented, given EU expansion and the impact of individual agreements that EU member states have with non-EU countries, not to mention the potential impact of EU competition law. The solution, he argued, was a uniform requirement for clubs to train at least some of their own players.
Delegates also discussed EU broadcasting policy in Friday's session, via a presentation by Alasdair Bell, UEFA's legal adviser on EU affairs. He explained the benefits of UEFA's central marketing strategy - formally approved by the EU last year - as helping the tournament retain its 'unique brand identity' while also being convenient for broadcast partners. It is also an important means of achieving fair distribution of revenues, which, according to Omdal, is a "major card" for UEFA in Brussels.
"In my experience, the politicians have understood and have accepted that in UEFA we can prove that we take money from the top professional game like the [UEFA] European Championship, like the [UEFA] Champions League and we share it with the smaller associations to stimulate the grassroots," he said. "It gives me optimism for the future because the politicians understand this."
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