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Soccer Groups Meets on Transfers

October 20, 2000

GENEVA (AP) _ A group trying to revamp the system in which soccer players are transferred among teams wants European political leaders to understand the special needs of the sport.

Transfer rules have been problematic since a 1995 decision allowed free movement within Europe of unsigned players.

A task force met Friday with all 51 members of European soccer’s governing body.

FIFA, world soccer’s ruling body, and UEFA set up the six-member task force last month. The group must submit a proposal by Nov. 1.

The group also is to present a resolution to 15 heads of state at a European Council meeting in Nice, France, in December. The task force wants to show that soccer requires special consideration.

FIFA and UEFA hope to receive some of the rights held by artists, lawyers, architects, journalists and doctors. Currently, sports is treated as any other industry or manufacturer in Europe.

``The European treaties have no mention of sport and that is obviously the core problem for sport and (soccer) in particular, that are being judged on purely economical rules,″ UEFA general secretary Gerhard Aigner said.

The current system allows a player to leave at any time as long as the new club pays sufficient compensation to the team surrendering the player.

But according to European Union laws, a soccer player, like any other employee in Europe, should be able to leave his job at any time even while under contract, and clubs should not have the power to demand a transfer fee.

For example, EU laws could mean that a star like Luis Figo could leave for a better offer at any time, leaving Real Madrid, which has just spent $60 million for the Portuguese player, empty-handed.

FIFA and UEFA argue that the EU’s efforts to bring soccer into line with regular employment laws are damaging smaller clubs that can no longer rely on transfer fees.

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