July 8, 2010 4:09 pm

Italy restricts non-EU players after dismal World Cup

Plans by Italy’s Serie A clubs to sign new foreign players for the coming season have been thrown into confusion by restrictions imposed by the national football federation in the wake of Italy’s World Cup debacle.

Giancarlo Abete, president of FIGC, set off a storm of controversy last Friday when he announced new regulations for the signing of non-European Union players in an attempt to revive the fortunes of Italy’s own professionals.

Italy’s national team, the 2006 champions, left South Africa after the first round without winning a single match. Roberto Calderoli, a minister in the centre-right government, blamed their failure on the excess of what he called “deluxe” immigrants playing in the top Serie A league.

He pointed out that Inter had won the Champions League without a single Italian in the starting line-up.

Under the new rules, Serie A clubs with more than two non-EU players will only be allowed to sign a new non-EU player coming from abroad on condition that he replace another non-EU player already on the team who is moving abroad or whose contract had expired at the end of June.

The non-EU player being replaced will not be allowed to play for his previous club during the same season but if his contract has expired he will be able to transfer to another Serie A team.

Serie B teams will not be allowed to sign any more non-EU players coming from abroad.

Previously clubs had been allowed to sign two more non-EU players, meaning that top teams like Inter, Roma and Milan – which is owned by prime minister Silvio Berlusconi – are having to reshape their plans at the last minute.

A total of 12 new signings could be affected. Under the new rules Serie A clubs will have a total limit of 121 non-EU players.

Maurizio Beretta, head of Serie A, said he would fight FIGC’s ruling.

“This is a bitter tasting decision that doesn’t solve the problem,” he said. “It penalises some Serie A clubs that had started negotiations and that now face contract penalties.”

According to media reports, Roma will no longer be able to hire Argentina’s Clemente Rodriguez, having already signed up Adriano from Brazil. Juventus are said to be choosing between Edin Dzeko from Bosnia and Serbia’s Milos Krasic. Parma said it had been lucky to avoid paying a 1m euro penalty over its thwarted attempt to sign Pablo Armero of Colombia.

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