UEFA’s home-grown player rules setting a quota of locally trained players at clubs are partially incompatible with EU rules, an advisor to Europe’s top court said on Thursday in a dispute between European football’s governing body and two Belgian clubs.
UEFA’s home-grown player rules, which date back to the 2008/2009 season, set a quota of locally trained players at clubs but without any discrimination on nationality.
Royal Antwerp Football Club had argued that the rules hamper a professional club from recruiting and fielding players who do not meet the requirement of local or national roots.
It said the rules also reduce the chances for some players to be recruited and to be fielded in a match.
Royal Antwerp took its grievance about UEFA and the Belgian football governing body URBSFA, which has similar rules, to a Belgian court that subsequently sought advice from the Luxembourg-based EU Court of Justice (CJEU).
CJEU Advocate General Maciej Szpunar said while the recruitment and training of young players must be accepted as legitimate, he had doubts about the general coherence of the contested provisions regarding the definition of a home-grown player.
“Systems in which home-grown players include not only those trained by the club at issue but also those of other clubs in the same national league, are not compatible with free movement rules,” he wrote in an opinion.
“The contested provisions are not coherent and therefore not suitable for achieving the objective of training young players: home-grown players should not include players emanating from other clubs than the club in question.”
Judges, who follow four out of five such recommendations, will rule in the coming months.
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