FIFA drops home-grown player rule over employment legislation fears

FIFA, football’s governing body, has dropped a plan that would have forced teams to field at least five home-grown players in their starting elevens over fears that it would contravene European employment legislation.

The so-called ‘6+5 rule’ had been expected to be brought in by 2012, but has now been abandoned.

At its congress in South Africa ahead today’s World Cup kick-off, FIFA said it will now look at “other eligibility” options.

According to the BBC, the European Commission said such a proposal would contravene EU labour laws, within which free movement of workers is a key principle.

However, John Read, employment law editor at XpertHR, said FIFA may have been able to argue that the policy of indirect discrimination against foreign players was a “proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim”, which is legal under EU law.

“FIFA could argue that the reasons it wants the home-grown limit amount to a legitimate aim, and the limit itself is a proportionate means of achieving it,” he said.

Indirect discrimination refers to treating one group less favourably, whereas direct discrimination is where someone is specifically treated less favourably than someone else on a protected ground, Read explained.

The Equality Act aims to let employers use positive action to boost workforce diversity. Personnel Today’s sister publication Employers’ Law has examined that and other provisions in the new legislation.

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