Lars-Christer Olsson, Chie4f Executive of UEFA, has accused Europe’s wealthier clubs of undermining football’s identity by signing players for their commercial value rather than their ability.

Olsson was speaking at an EU public hearing in to the way the sport is run throughout Europe.

“An example of just how bad the problem is, is what we call the ‘Asian factor’ where a club buys a player from Asia purely to gain commercial links, paying him big wages and leaving him on the sidelines,” Olsson said.

Olsson also criticsed clubs for the “hoarding of players by big clubs”.

“Too many big clubs are just going out and buying the best players and leaving them on the bench and so depriving the fans of seeing them, and also depriving other clubs at which they could play from having them,” he added.

“We have surveyed the fans and 66 percent of them say that they feel the game has lost its identity because not enough clubs are using local players.”

The first topic under discussion was the so-called “home-grown player rule”, agreed last year at UEFA’s Congress.

From next season, clubs entering UEFA competitions must have four ‘locally-trained’ players, defined as players who have been registered for three seasons or years with the club between the ages of 15 and 21.

However, there are doubts as to whether the rule conforms to EU competition law.

“We don’t say whether the rule is right or wrong, but whether it is legal,” Thomas Kurth, general manager of G14 (also in attendance) told the hearing.

“The rule could clearly be construed as a breach of EU treaties on non-discrimination and free movement and creates potential legal and financial challenges for clubs.”

Jose Luis Arnaut, the man leading a review, is expected to deliver his final report in the next week.

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