FIFA president Sepp Blatter said that his organisation is contemplating introducing limits on the number of foreign players allowed to represent a club side.
Blatter said easures were needed “because we have to maintain, if not the local identity of a club, at least the national identity of a club”.
“We shall open the door to foreign players but not so much that you lose the identity,” Blatter added.
The FIFA strategic committee has been studying the issue and “we will come up with a proposal” at the next FIFA congress in Sydney in late May, he added.
Blatter said he supposed a decision on the restrictions “can be, will be or must be accepted by the FIFA congress”.
He claimed that football the likes of Franz Beckenbauer, Johan Cruyff and Michel Platini are “working in the same direction because we all like football and football shall maintain the identity”.
He cited as a “good” example the Japanese J-League’s rule that each club can register only three foreign players for a match.
However, any measures imposed on clubs would almost certainly be challenged in Europe. There, football is deemed an “economic activity”, and as such must comply with European Union Law a similar way to any other industry. Currently EU regulations over the freedom of movement mean that residents within the EU are guaranteed the right to freely move and work within the EU’s border states.