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FIFA president Sepp Blatter’s plans to restrict the fielding of foreign players will be scrapped, amid steadfast resistance from European football associations…

Blatter will arrive in Sydney next week for FIFA’s annual summit, where he will attempt to push through the idea of limiting clubs to five foreign players per starting eleven, thus promoting local talent over imported superstars.

The proposal has proved hugely controversial, meeting strong resistance from the majority of leagues and the EU, who have declared the system illegal as it would infringe upon players’ working rights.

But Blatter remains hopeful, pointing to this year’s Champions League and UEFA Cup winners – Manchester United and Zenit St. Petersburg, respectively – as examples of how the system can succeed.

"I'm resolved to push this important reform through," said the 72-year-old. "We have all seen that the finals of the two European club competitions have been won this year by two teams [United and Zenit St Petersburg] who had in their starting line-up at least six eligible players for the national team of the country where the club is based."

Compromise

European federations, including the FA, will almost certainly vote against the proposal in Sydney, although other continents may choose to adopt the system.

A compromise has been reached, however, with the banning of international transfers involving under-18 players – a move designed to prevent clubs losing their youth products.

"We are in favour of protecting locally trained players but 6 plus 5, or any form of quota for that matter, simply cannot be implemented in Europe because it isn't legal," said UEFA spokesman William Gaillard.

"Our executive committee met Mr Blatter in Moscow and a compromise agreement was concluded that does not involve nationality issues."

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Such a rule would severely stifle the management style of such as Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, who famously recruited Cesc Fabregas the Barcelona academy when he was just 15 years old.

UEFA president Michel Platini and FA chairman Lord Triesman are especially keen to force through the initiative, which would oblige youngsters to sign their first professional contract with the club that raised them.

Gaillard added: "It's not possible to protect national identity 100 per cent in Europe, but this measure at least ensures young players have a link to their local community."

Mike Maguire

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