• Sweden edition
 
Långholmen wins opt-out on 'Swedish player' rule

Långholmen wins opt-out on 'Swedish player' rule

Published: 25 Mar 2010 15:22 GMT+01:00
Updated: 25 Mar 2010 15:22 GMT+01:00

In a decision with some parallels to the landmark Bosman ruling, the Swedish Football Association has granted The Local's partner football club Långholmen FC a temporary dispensation from regulations requiring a quota of Sweden-bred players in match day squads.

After the celebrations surrounding last season's dramatic promotion to division 3, the Stockholm club sobered up with a start when it was discovered that the move from the local leagues into the national system meant a new set of regulations to follow, including one stipulating that half of the team must qualify as homegrown players.

The chance discovery of the Swedish FA regulations by one of Långholmen's members sent shockwaves through Sweden's perhaps most international club, which has a playing staff representing 21 nationalities.

”We panicked as our championship winning team from last year had only five players who qualified as homegrown players,” Mats Gustavsson, Långholmen FC chairperson, told The Local.

Långholmen applied to the Swedish FA's competition committee for a dispensation from the rule but their initial request was rejected.

"We were obliged to reject the application as there was no room for manoeuvre within the regulations for providing a dispensation," said Swedish FA lawyer Lars Helmersson to The Local.

But the expat community club decided to contest the decision and, with the backing of an association representing the interests of division three clubs, appealed to the board of the Swedish Football Association.

The FA board returned their affirmative decision last Tuesday, much to the relief of a Långholmen still uncertain about where and with whom they would be playing in 2010, with less than a month to the big kick off.

”Of course we are happy that we have been given a dispensation, but I think that the main issue here is that hopefully our fight will lead to a change in the rules so that other clubs do not have to go through the same thing,” Mats Gustavsson said.

The regulations, which stipulate that half of the match squad must have been registered with a Swedish club for three years between the ages of 15 and 21, affect all players, regardless of nationality, Gustavsson pointed out.

"The board gave the club's players a dispensation on the grounds of them being amateurs and having come to Sweden for reasons other than football. The purpose of the rules was never to discriminate against immigrant clubs such as Långholmen," Helmersson confirmed.

Gustavsson told The Local that while the club has been a little ”shell-shocked” by the experience, preparations for the coming season have not been disrupted.

"We did discuss adopting a form of affirmative action policy by recruiting players who qualified under the rules. But this would mean we would have had to turn away players who had the wrong background – dangerously close to sorting people according to skin colour, or sexuality, and nobody wants that," he said.

The dispensation applies to 13 Långholmen players – all amateurs who have moved to Sweden through work or romantic connections – and extends only for the 2010 season. The Local asked Gustavsson what the future holds for the English-speaking set up, which joined the Swedish league's bottom rung, division 8, only seven seasons ago.

”We were given the dispensation on the grounds that the players were amateurs. But if we were to win the division and move into division 2 then we would have to put them all on contract... we'll cross that bridge when we come to it,” he said.

According to the Swedish FA regulations, from division 3 and upwards at least half of a match day squad must be made up of homegrown players. The rules were introduced in Sweden in 2006 to replace regulations which limited the number of non-EU players (to three).

”Sweden introduced the regulations after an EU court ruled against the previous praxis of limiting non-EU players. We instead adopted UEFA rules stipulating homegrown players - but these are designed for elite competitions," said Lars Helmersson.

Helmersson confirmed that the FA's competition committee has been tasked with reviewing the regulations during the 2010 season to avoid a repeat of the situation that has afflicted Långholmen.

He added that although the UEFA regulations were developed in consultation with the EU and world football body FIFA, they have never been examined in court.

"It is only when they are challenged before the courts that the issue can be looked at legally," Helmersson said.

On the same day as the Swedish FA told Långholmen of its decision, March 16th, the European Court of Justice ruled in a landmark decision regarding the French player Olivier Bernard, stating that clubs have the right to claim compensation for their investment in the training of young players.

"All of these issues are basically on the same principle as the Bosman case. Until the Bernard ruling I would have said that the ECJ would have found this all consistent with EU law, but now it is anyone's guess - this indicates that the court is becoming more interested in the justifications for the special status of sport," said Johan Lindholm, an expert in EU and sports law at Umeå University.

"Within EU law, a lot of questions remain unanswered, especially within football," he told The Local.

The 1995 Bosman ruling by the ECJ concerned the freedom of movement of workers within the EU. The case had a profound effect on the transfers of football players within the EU, banning restrictions on foreign EU members within the national leagues.

Currently Långholmen's players are amateur and so would not fall under EU legislation on the free movement of goods and services. However if they were to progress up the league system and become professional then they probably would qualify as "economic actors," according to Lindholm.

"The basic principle is that anything that makes it less attractive for people to find work would probably qualify as discriminatory."

Peter Vinthagen Simpson (news@thelocal.se)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

10:21 March 30, 2010 by ameribrit
Is changing the term to "homegrown" not like saying non-coloured instead of whites only?

Unfortunately this is just another example of Sweden's xenophobic undercurrent.
12:49 April 5, 2010 by conboy
Funny you should mention that there are a lot of people walking around on that particular egg shell within Swedish football as usual not to many want to raise their heads above the parapet. Sven Göran Eriksson does not "hestitate" to accept a job with the Ivory Coast but how many black coached do we see in top flight Swedish football for example - Steve Galloway an assistant at Djurgården is the only one I am aware of the sub-text is glaringly obvious for all who choose to see....
Today's headlines
Sweden scraps 'new start zones' after EU input
Integration Minister Erik Ullenhag visits a school in Tensta, one of the neighbourhoods mentioned when he and his colleagues first floated the new start zone proposal. File: TT

Sweden scraps 'new start zones' after EU input

Sweden has abandoned a plan to ease taxes for small companies in blighted areas after the European Commission challenged its legality. READ () »

'Easter eggs an invitation to spread germs'
A typical Swedish Easter egg. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

'Easter eggs an invitation to spread germs'

A Swedish microbiologist has warned that traditional Swedish Easter eggs laden with candy are an open invitation to the spread of bacteria and viruses. "Is this really a good idea?" he asked. READ () »

Jammed truck snarls Stockholm rush hour
Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

Jammed truck snarls Stockholm rush hour

PICTURES: A truck got wedged inside a tunnel in central Stockholm on Thursday, with authorities concerned the accident may have damaged cables in the tunnel's ceiling. READ () »

Kids in Victorian garb mark Swedish Easter
A Swedish Easter witch holding daffodils. File photo: TT

Kids in Victorian garb mark Swedish Easter

In India, I'd notice Easter only from the traffic jam outside the churches, but here witches, egg hunts, and feathers mark the Christian holiday. The Local's Deepti Vashisht brings you the various shades of Swedish Easter. READ () »

Swedish MP ordered chemtrail probe
Chemtrails?: Shutterstock.

Swedish MP ordered chemtrail probe

A Swedish MP who launched an official government investigation into the existence of chemtrails tells The Local why he thinks Swedes deserve the truth, even if it may leave some conspiracy theorists unsatisfied. READ () »

PM pleads ignorance of Vattenfall's Nuon bid
Fredrik Reinfeldt answers the constitutional affairs committee's questions. Photo: TT

PM pleads ignorance of Vattenfall's Nuon bid

Sweden's prime minister on Thursday said Vattenfall itself, not its owners the Swedish state, had responsibility for the loss-making Nuon deal. READ () »

'Kockums submarine raid may be illegal': lawyer
Photo: TT

'Kockums submarine raid may be illegal': lawyer

A Swedish lawyer says the Swedish military may have broken the law when it raided the Malmö premises of German defence giant Thyssen Krupp. READ () »

Good weather could blight Easter traffic
Easter traffic two years ago on the E4 motorway. File: Jessica Gow/TT

Good weather could blight Easter traffic

Traffic experts have cautioned Swedes heading to the countryside for what should be a sunny Easter, warning that the most serious accidents often take place when the weather is clement. READ () »

Saab offers Gripen lease to Malaysia
Jas Gripen jets in flight. File photo: TT

Saab offers Gripen lease to Malaysia

Swedish defence giant Saab has offered to rent out fighter jets to Malaysia. READ () »

What's On in Sweden

What's On in Sweden

Check out what's happening with The Local's guide to the main attractions and events in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö - in association with DoToday. READ () »

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Society
Swedish supermarket Ica pulls contested Easter commercial off air
Kungahuset
Society
Swedish royals set baptism date for princess
finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 16
Politics
Who's the prime minister's heir?
Alfie Atkins
Society
Are children's books the key to families integrating in Sweden?
National
'Sweden Dem protests cater to party's martyr image'
National
'Swedish research grants were fantastic, but now it's like Australia'
Society
Only in Sweden: The ten problems you'd never encounter elsewhere
National
Swedes stopped to take my picture, but didn't look me in the eyes
Business & Money
A swipe of the hand replaced cash and cards in Lund
YouTube
Features
Video: Oliver Gee finds out how to embrace The Swedish Hug
TT
National
Abba duo hints at reunion
Advertisement:
Private
National
Flash mobs hug it out across Sweden
Finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 11-13
TT
Politics
Swedes to give six-hour workday a go
TT
Society
Aussie choir member wows Abba in Sweden
YouTube
Society
Stockholm magic a surprise YouTube hit
Fastighetsbyrån
Society
Gallery: The Local's Property of the Week
Private
Society
Swedes find 200-year-old gravestone in living room
Stockholm School of Economics
Sponsored Article
Why a bachelor's degree is no longer enough
Deepti Vashisht
Features
Deepti Vashisht dissects the magic of Sweden's personal ID number
Shutterstock
Society
Ten signs you've been in Sweden too long
Society
Jimi Fritze heard every word when doctors discussed taking his organs
Society
A Swedish farmer explains why the new bestiality ban is 'pointless'
ESL
Sponsored Article
Learning Swedish the easy way
Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Blog Update: The Diplomatic Dispatch

28 October 15:16

The Green Growth Group Summit »

"Today on the 28 October in Brussels, a large group of key EU Ministers and business people, including UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Edward Davey, and Swedish Environment Minister Lena Ek, will meet to discuss green growth. They all have a stake in resolving a challenge which, although it is crucial..." READ »

748
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com