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Swiss FA welcomes transfer agreement

FIFA president Sepp Blatter (left) has finally reached agreement with the European Commission


The Swiss football association has warmly welcomed an apparent end to the long drawn-out row over transfers and players' contracts.

The sport's governing body, FIFA, has been locked in heated discussions with the European Union for the last six months, ever since the European Commission called into question the current transfer system, where players under contract are effectively sold by their old club when they move on to a new one.

While Switzerland is not a member of the EU, it does have to abide with FIFA's international regulations. On Tuesday, the Swiss FA's secretary-general, Peter Gilliéron, told swissinfo he was relieved that the two sides had finally managed to achieve consensus.

"I'm highly satisfied that an agreement has been reached between the EU officials and the football authorities," Gilliéron said. "I think it would have been very dangerous if the EU had handed down a decision without securing the agreement of FIFA.

The Swiss FA said it was pleased that the EU seemed to have reconsidered its original opinion that footballers should be able to switch teams in the same way that employees in the general workplace are able to change companies.

The proposed new regulations call for lengthy bans if a player breaches his contract prematurely and allow just one time period a season in which transfers can take place. The European Commission has also accepted that small clubs should still receive compensation for training up young players who then move on to bigger sides.

"Football does have some special rules to which you can't apply the normal working rights," Gilliéron insisted. "I think the members of the European Committee have seen that there are special circumstances in football that have to be considered."

The way in which the EU seems to have toned down its original demands has, unsurprisingly, caused anger among some players' representatives. The international players' association FIFPro went as far as calling it a "black day" for the sport, before threatening to challenge the agreement before the European Court of Justice.

The lack of any formal players' association in Switzerland has so far prevented any coordinated reaction from the country's professionals. But whatever dissent does emerge, the Swiss FA told swissinfo it was confident that a formal end to the row was now just months away.

While expressing his own happiness with the latest development, FIFA's Swiss president Sepp Blatter has said that discussions will resume to bring the players and their Unions on board. FIFA hopes to implement the new rules in Argentina this July at the next meeting of the organisation's executive committee.

by Mark Ledsom


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