FIFA form 'historic' alliance with players body
FIFA have joined forces with FIFPro, the International Federation of Professional Footballers, in a move which will give the players an official voice in decision-making.
In what was described by FIFA president Sepp Blatter as an 'historic day' for football, the two organisations signed an agreement which will see the bodies try to reach common ground on problems facing the sport.
Blatter, flanked by FIFPro president Philippe Piat and Barcelona stars Samuel Eto'o and Lilian Thuram, said: 'The players form an important part of our footballing family and must be part of the decision-making at international level.'
The FIFA president listed subjects as diverse as corruption, betting, racism and doping as matters on which the two bodies will co-operate.
'Also, if the playing calendar is too full, problems can arise and we want to hear the players' opinions,' he said.
His words were echoed by veteran France defender Thuram.
'Today is a great day because FIFA are opening up communication with the players,' he said.
Eto'o agreed, saying: 'Football, above all, should be for the players. Before it seemed as if we just played, while others made the important decisions. I felt part of the game, but as if I was on the other side.'
Blatter also claimed FIFA would not be held responsible for players injured on international duty, such as West Ham's Dean Ashton or Atletico Madrid's Maxi Rodriguez.
Clubs have threatened legal action in some cases after players were injured playing for their countries.
'In international tournaments, we oblige the national associations to take out insurance policies on their players and under FIFA rulings, clubs also have the responsibility to insure their players for all competitions,' said Blatter.
FIFA are currently embroiled in a legal case with Belgian side Charleroi, whose star midfielder Abdelmajid Oulmers was ruled out for eight months after picking up an injury on international duty with Morocco.
However, Blatter said he was optimistic this case would not end up in the European Court.
'We are trying to find a solution to this ongoing problem and hope that the case can be solved before it reaches the European Court,' he added.
'Before a decision is made by the tribunal, we will come up with a solution and protocol so that we don't end up with a second Bosman case,' he said, referring to the matter that revolutionised the transfer market.
Blatter also announced the appointment of Barcelona president Joan Laporta as FIFA's chairman of the 'For the Good of the Game' competitions working group, in place of AC Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani.
Meanwhile, FIFPro president Piat took a swipe at the G14 group of 18 powerful European clubs.
'Today is the launch of a period of football dealing with its own problems and not an outside organisation,' said Piat.
'It sends a message to the likes of the G14 and other outside associations that we want to solve our own problems.
'FIFA is a private organisation that makes private decisions, so the day that players accept decisions from outside influences is a troublesome day.'
World football's governing body FIFA and players union FIFPro will propose a limit on the number of foreigners who can play for a club.
The two organisations, who signed an agreement to work closer together today, propose the implementation of a six plus five system, whereby six members of a side must be homegrown.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter explained that, in future, this ruling would 'protect the national teams'.
He said: 'At the moment, clubs are not so interested in forming players because they know that later on, they may leave.
'Also, the bigger teams are more interested in signing established players than forming new ones, and this is something we need to look at.
'We do not want to put an end to transfers, but hope to bring back the local or regional base that existed previously.'
Blatter warned politicians not to intervene in an attempt to invalidate decisions and claimed that football should be left to govern itself.
'They should leave football in peace and learn to respect the character of the game. Football is more than capable of organising itself,' said Blatter.