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Italians bar non-EU imports

The Italian Football Federation has moved to block the import of non-European Union players at Italian clubs from 1 September.

The Italian Football Federation (FIGC) announced today moves to limit the number of non-European Union players at Italian clubs ahead of the new season.

One additional player
Clubs in Serie A and B will be allowed to recruit one additional non-EU player before a 31 August deadline. From 1 September, no further signings from outside the EU will be accepted until further notice. Meanwhile the FIGC has stopped with immediate effect the recruitment of non-EU players at clubs in Serie C and below.

Old rules abolished
The old rulings limited the number of non-EU players under contract at one club to a maximum of five and the number of non-EU players used in a league match to three. However, these rules were abolished in the course of the 2000/01 season, just prior to a crucial meeting between leaders Juventus FC and AS Roma which allowed the latter to field more than the three non-EU players. Since then, there have been no limitations regarding the use of foreign players in the Italian top flight.

Same rules in France and Germany
The regulations over non-EU players differ across Europe. While there are no limits for clubs in England's FA Premiership, Spanish clubs are limited to four non-EU players on their playing staff each year. The same rules apply in both France and Germany where clubs can have five non-EU players under contract but are allowed only to field three in a game. 

New law
The FIGC's decision followed a two-day meeting and came after the approval of a new immigration law approved by the Italian parliament on 11 July regulating the status of non-EU citizens in Italy. "We have anticipated the timings of the new immigration law," said FIGC president Franco Carraro. "Had we waited for this decision, there would have been 500 new arrivals. We believe this is a good decision for Italian football."