Blatter seeks protection for young players

Sep 9, 2009 - 5:54 PM CARDIFF, Wales(AP) -- FIFA president Sepp Blatter is promising stronger action against European clubs who plunder South America and Africa for talented young soccer stars and then leave them stranded if they don't make it.

Soccer's world governing body is analyzing transfers to see if clubs are breaking the rules by holding players as young as 15 to contracts and taking them away from their countries.

"Most of the cases we have on our desk are from Africa to Europe or South America to Europe," said Blatter, who was in Cardiff on Wednesday to open a new Football Association of Wales training complex.

"They are taken at 14 or 15 years old with clubs saying that their parents are going too. But they get put into another family, and what happens to them? One out of say 20 has a chance to go on in their career. The others are left, and they need to be protected."

FIFA has already banned Chelsea from buying players in the next two transfer windows for signing a 16-year-old French player after allegedly getting him to break his contract with Lens. Chelsea is appealing the ruling.

Together with UEFA, soccer's European governing body, FIFA is fighting loopholes that appear within EU employment laws and help clubs sign players freely. Blatter said they were trying to protect those under 18.

"We now have a committee where each case is dealt with individually to see if a transfer can be allowed or not," he said. "It is the start of greater control of our game. It is to protect the young players.

"I have been asked by officials in Brazil to stop the exodus of their young players. We will do the same in Africa. We are trying to organize leagues (in South America and Africa) so players there can earn a decent living. That takes time, but we have started because it is the only way to protect young players."

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