UEFA will present firm proposals on the local training of players to its 52 national member associations at the next UEFA Congress in Tallinn, Estonia, in April.
The proposals to Europe's football parliament this spring will follow a consultation process involving major stakeholders in the European game, which has been ongoing since UEFA made public its initial ideas on the issue last summer. Included in the consultation process for the first time are uefa.com users, who are being asked to provide their feedback via an online survey on Europe's football website. Users wanting to participate in the 'Investing in local players' survey, should click here.
At the start of February, UEFA announced concrete proposals. The 'A' list that teams submit for UEFA club competitions will continue to be limited to 25 players, and from season 2006/07, at least two places on this list will be reserved for players trained by the club's own football academy and a further two places for players trained by other clubs from within the same association of the said club. The 'B' list will also continue to exist - involving an unlimited number of Under-21 players who have been at the club for two seasons.
Target for 2008/09
In the following two seasons, one additional place for a club-trained and one additional place for an association-trained player will be reserved on the 'A' list, so that by the 2008/09 season, each club will have in its 25-man squad four club-trained and four association-trained players. UEFA is also recommending that its member associations introduce similar measures at domestic level.
A club-trained player is defined as a player who has been registered for a minimum of three seasons with the club between the age of 15 and 21, whereas an association-trained player is one who has been registered for at least three seasons by the club or by other clubs affiliated to the same association between the age of 15 and 21.
UEFA is concerned that some clubs are not training enough of their own players, but simply taking them from elsewhere. The proposed measures have the objective of creating a better balance in domestic competitions, preventing clubs from simply 'hoarding' players in squads and creating a system whereby locally-trained players would be given a greater opportunity to play regularly in club sides - ensuring a large reservoir of talent for national teams as a consequence.
UEFA launched its proposals after identifying a number of perceived problem areas within the European game. These include a lack of incentive in player training, problems for national teams, lack of local regional identity in many club teams, lack of competitive balance and over-stocked squads. The proposals are not based on nationality-related issues, as UEFA does not wish to violate EU legislation on, for example, the freedom of movement of labour across borders.
UEFA Chief Executive Lars-Christer Olsson's views on the issue have been published in a column in Champions, the official UEFA Champions League magazine. "Youngsters have a choice," he writes. "They don't have to play football. If there was no incentive, no route to the top that they can see, there is always the risk that they could take up another sport. All fans want their teams to be successful but we believe they would identify more strongly with their clubs if young homegrown players were coming through."
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