Radical action needed to tackle Euopean problems

Europe's politicans and football authorities must act quickly to stop the game falling into the wrong hands, is the clear conclusion of the Independent European Sport Review, a 165 page report delivered to the European Commission in Brussels, Belgium. The review, launched in December under the British presidency of the European Union and sponsored by the EU and UEFA with the blessing of football's world governing body FIFA, claims radical action is needed to tackle the problems caused by corruption, soaring wages and the growing power of a small number of wealthy clubs.

Specifically, the report recommended a cap on players' wages, stricter rules for players' agents and putting the game on a more secure legal footing. The proposals also included a new EU "payroll tax" on clubs, European-wide regulations on transfers and plans to introduce a "fit and proper person test" for senior figures in the game, from club owners and managers to referees.

"The result of the review has left me deeply concerned. Sports and football in particular are not in good health," said Jose Luis Arnaut, who chaired the inquiry. "There is a real risk that the ownership of clubs will pass into the wrong hands and the true values of sport will be eroded." This was supported by UEFA president Lennart Johansson who said it was clear from the review’s findings "that we need to work harder in the areas of corporate governance, especially in the areas of player transfers and wages, labour related matters, illegal movements of money, match fixing and the problem of 'trafficking' of young players.”

EU ministers will discuss the findings at a meeting in Brussels in June.

See also: UEFA: Review may 'save European football's future' (21 May)