Federation Eases Stance on Foreign Quotas

Mark Ledsom, Reuters, May 9, 2008

The International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) said on Friday it had decided to soften its stance over the introduction of controversial quotas for foreign players.

The FIVB said it would now seek to have no more than three foreign players on court at any one time, rather than the original proposal of two, but said it would still resist any attempts by European Union officials to scupper the plan.

Following protests by several European associations who were concerned at possible conflicts with EU labour laws, the federation said it now planned to let individual associations choose if they want to allow up to three foreign players.

“We held discussions with the associations of Germany, Spain and Switzerland and I think we have found common ground,” FIVB president Ruben Acosta told Reuters.

“We have said that there must never be more than half the players on the court coming from another national association.”

Speaking at the opening of his federation’s new headquarters, Acosta said the decision to offer a “3+3” quota rule instead of the previous “4+2” was based on the concerns of the European associations rather than fears of EU intervention.

On Thursday the European Parliament overwhelmingly rejected the similar “6+5” proposals put forward by world soccer’s governing body FIFA, arguing that the scheme would “create direct discrimination based on nationality”.

Like FIFA, the FIVB is arguing that its proposals would actually be in keeping with EU competition laws, since it would prevent rich clubs monopolising their domestic leagues by buying up all the best foreign players.

“I think the European Union has no idea about what is practised in team sports. They are confused and we want them to reconsider their whole concept.

“There is no conflict with European labour law because clubs will still be able to sign as many foreign players as they wish. But when it comes to the number who can appear on court at any one time, that is for the sports bodies to decide.

“There is no judge who will rule on this in any case unless there is first a complaint. The EU will have to wait until we implement it before trying to intervene but we have already decided if it is necessary then we will go to court.”

The FIVB’s revised proposals will be discussed by the federation’s executive board in Lausanne on Monday before being put before the sport’s national associations at their congress in Dubai next month.

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