6+5 rule

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The 6+5 rule was a proposition for an association football rule adopted by FIFA during a meeting in May 2008,[1] although it had been discussed since 1999.[2] The idea was abandoned in June 2010.


At the beginning of each match, each club must field at least six players eligible to play for the national team of the country of the club. There is no restriction, however, on the number of non-eligible players under contract with the club, nor on substitutes to avoid non-sportive constraints on the coaches (potentially 3+8 at the end of a match).


The objective of this rule is to restore the national identity of football clubs who have increasingly resorted to fielding foreign players in their squad. It is also intended to reduce the increasing gap between the big and small football clubs.

Resolution adopted by the FIFA Congress[edit]

The FIFA Congress,[1] at its meeting in Sydney on 29 and 30 May 2008, decided to:

  1. fully support the objectives of "6+5" as laid down at the above Congress,
  2. request the presidents of FIFA and UEFA to continue to explore for Europe, together with the world of sport – football's protagonists, but also the International Olympic Committee and the international federations – all possible means within the limits of the law to ensure that these crucial sporting objectives be achieved,
  3. give the FIFA President the mandate to, if necessary, take similar steps on the other continents in co-operation with the relevant confederation.

Background of 6+5[edit]

  1. The foundations of football are harmony and balance between national team football and club football.
  2. The clubs' loss of national identity is endangering the former and has led to increasing inequality among the latter, thereby widening the financial and sporting gap between the two, reducing the competitiveness of club competitions and increasing the predictability of their results.
  3. Safeguarding
    1. the education and training of young players,
    2. training clubs, and
    3. the values of effort and motivation in football, particularly for young players, is a fundamental element of protecting national teams and restoring sporting and financial balance to club football.
  4. The universal development of football over the last century would not continue if there were increasing inequalities between continents, countries and protagonists in football.

Calendar of 6+5[edit]

The objective is to have an incremental implementation starting at the beginning of the 2010–11 season to give clubs time to adjust their teams over a period of several years:

Legal position in the European Union[edit]

The 6+5 rule has on numerous occasions been described as illegal by the European Union and was rejected by the European Parliament on 9 May 2008.[3] The rule violates both Article 48 of the EC Treaty and the Bosman ruling.[4] FIFA President Sepp Blatter met with representatives of European football leagues to explain the new rule and to garner support for it on 22 July 2008.[5]

At an informal meeting of the European sports ministers in Biarritz on 27 and 28 November 2008, FIFA was again seeking support for its proposed rule. In a final declaration, the ministers expressed their wish to "encourage further discussion on initiatives put forward by international federations to encourage the teams of professional clubs in each country to develop the presence of athletes capable of qualifying for national teams, in compliance with EU law, to strengthen the regional and national roots of professional sport."[6]

While FIFA expressed their satisfaction about the continuation of dialogue,[7] EU commissioners repeated their standpoint that the "6+5 rule is based on direct discrimination on the grounds of nationality, and is thus against one of the fundamental principles of EU law."[8] Observers concluded that the status quo has not changed.[6]

The independent Institute for European Affairs (INEA) had been commissioned by FIFA to investigate whether the rule was legal under current EU law.[9] On 26 February 2009, the INEA released an expert opinion declaring the 6+5 rule "can be implemented in line with European Community law."[10]

The ruling has since been scrapped as of June 2010 as the European Commission had said such a proposal would contravene EU labour laws.


  1. ^ a b "FIFA Congress supports objectives of 6+5". FIFA. Archived from the original on 30 March 2009. Retrieved 11 January 2009. 
  2. ^ "FIFA, UEFA seeking EU waiver to greatly limit foreign players". ESPN. 20 December 1999. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 13 January 2014. 
  3. ^ Ennis, Darren (8 May 2008). "Blow for Blatter as EU rejects '6+5' plan to limit foreign players". London: The Independent. Archived from the original on 11 June 2008. Retrieved 11 August 2008. 
  4. ^ Lynam, Ian (6 Dec 2006). "FIFA's 6+5 Proposal". worldsportlawreport. Archived from the original on 11 August 2008. Retrieved 11 August 2008. 
  5. ^ "FIFA and EPFL meeting regarding 6+5". FIFA.com. 22 July 2008. Archived from the original on 3 August 2008. Retrieved 11 August 2008. 
  6. ^ a b "EU not swayed by FIFA 6+5 rule but will discuss UEFA plan". Reuters. 28 November 2008. Archived from the original on 3 January 2009. Retrieved 2 December 2008. 
  7. ^ "FIFA satisfied with meeting of the sports ministers of the European Union". FIFA. 1 December 2008. Archived from the original on 2 February 2009. Retrieved 2 December 2008. 
  8. ^ "Statement of commissioners Ján Figel and Vladimír Špidla". European Commission. 28 November 2008. Archived from the original on 19 September 2009. Retrieved 2 December 2008. 
  9. ^ "Champions League – 'Six-plus-five' rule deemed legal". Eurosport UK. 26 February 2009. Retrieved 26 February 2009. [dead link]
  10. ^ "Expert Opinion on the Compatibility of the "6+5 Rule" with European Community Law (Summary)" (PDF). INEA Online. 26 February 2009. Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 April 2009. Retrieved 26 February 2009.