Monday

25th Oct 2021

FIFA wants EU to restrict foreign ownership of clubs

FIFA president Sepp Blatter wants the European Union to act to deter foreign ownership of football clubs, particularly in England, but also across the 27-country bloc.

"Something has to be done about these billionaire owners," Mr Blatter told reporters in the European Parliament on Monday (6 October) after meeting with MEPs to discuss the issue.

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"These days you can buy a club as easily as you buy a football jersey. There is something wrong and that's why I ask the European Union to act."

"This is not just about England where the problem is acute," the chief of the game's ruling body added. "This will spread across Europe."

The English Premier League is awash with owners from overseas. Out of 20 clubs, eight belong to foreign investors. He compared the situation in Europe with that in non-EU-member state Switzerland.

"There are national laws in Switzerland," he said. "When you buy property or make an investment, you must prove yourself."

"You have to prove your link with the area."

"These people arrive, buy the clubs but they can leave at any moment," he said. "That creates a risk of instability for these teams and the competition as a whole. Ideally a way should be found for clubs to be financed by local investors."

Mr Blatter voiced concern that the current financial crisis could have a knock-on effect on the game.

"There must be better control of football's finances especially in the difficult climate we are facing," he said. "I urge UEFA to work with the EU to tighten up the rules, otherwise there will be big financial difficulties in the future."

Ugly sister

Separately, Mr Blatter also criticised UEFA's decision to rebrand the UEFA Cup as the Europa League.

The UEFA Cup has been something of the ugly sister to the highly profitable Champions' League, with the Europa move is intended to correct this situation. In the new Europa League, there will now be a group stage with 12 groups of four teams, playing home and away, instead of eight groups of five, playing single matches.

However, the FIFA chief worries that instead, the Europa League will just seem like a second division version of the Champions' League.

"We have the Champions League and this new Europa League which essentially is a first and second division in Europe," he told reporters.

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