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Dec 12, 2005

Blatter stresses need for limit on foreign players

TOKYO, Dec 12 (Reuters) - FIFA chief Sepp Blatter has reiterated his desire for clubs to field at least six homegrown players in order to limit the number of foreigners in their teams.

'The solution is that there should be a minimum,' Blatter told reporters. 'FIFA's idea is we should have at least six players eligible for the national team of the country in which they play.'

Speaking before the FIFA Club World Championship in Japan, the FIFA president was asked if he thought it was 'unfair' that European champions Liverpool sometimes fielded as few as two Englishmen in their starting XI.

'One of the principles of the European Union is the free assimilation of people,' said Blatter. 'You can field as many players from other European countries as you see fit.

'Not just with Liverpool but with other clubs, say Bayern Munich, there are a maximum of one or two (homegrown) players. This situation is not good for football.'

European soccer's governing body UEFA had foreign player quotas until 1995 when the Bosman ruling demolished restrictions on the number of overseas players clubs could have.

Blatter said a FIFA taskforce was examining the 'national identity' of clubs to help reverse a trend that could hurt the development of local players.

'The national identity of clubs is very important,' he said. '(But) the regulations of club competitions are not made by FIFA but by the national associations.

'It's up to them and their leagues to limit the entry of foreign players.'