UEFA’s rules setting a quota for locally trained players at clubs are partially incompatible with EU law, an adviser to Europe’s top court said on Thursday in a dispute between European soccer’s governing body and two Belgian clubs.
UEFA’s rules on local players, which date back to the 2008/2009 season, set a quota of locally trained players at clubs, but without discrimination on the basis of nationality.
Royal Antwerp Football Club had argued that the rules prevent a professional club from signing and lining up players who do not meet the requirement of having local or national roots.
In addition, the rules reduce the chances of some players being signed and lined up in a match.
Royal Antwerp took its complaint against UEFA and Belgian football’s governing body URBSFA, which has similar rules, to a Belgian court that subsequently sought advice from the Luxembourg-based Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU).
CJEU Advocate General Maciej Szpunar stated that while the recruitment and training of young players should be accepted as legitimate, he had doubts about the overall consistency of the contested provisions in relation to the definition of a home-trained player.
“Systems in which domestic players include not only those trained by the club in question, but also those of other clubs in the same national league, are not compatible with the rules of free movement,” he wrote in an opinion.
“The contested provisions are not consistent and therefore not adequate to achieve the objective of training young players: home-trained players must not include players from clubs other than the club concerned.”
The judges, who follow four out of five recommendations of this lawyer, will rule in the coming months.