No. 65: An Analysis of UEFA’s Homegrown Players Rule by Applying the Covert Discrimination Principle


  • Haley Chow
Publish Date:
July 19, 2022
Publication Title:
European Union [EU] Law Working Papers
Stanford Law School
Working Paper
  • Haley Chow, An Analysis of UEFA's Homegrown Players Rule by Applying the Covert Discrimination Principle, EU Law Working Papers No. 65, Stanford-Vienna Transatlantic Technology Law Forum (2022).
Related Organization(s):


In the European club football landscape, there have been several attempts to cap the number of foreign players that play in domestic and continental competitions. Before 1992, organizations like the Union of European Football Associations (“UEFA”), the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (“FIFA”), and individual national football associations (“NFAs”) each developed their own rules to favor domestic players over foreign players for places on club football rosters. The ECJ’s decision in Union Royale Belge des Sociétés de Football Association ASBL v Jean-Marc Bosman proved to be a “watershed moment,” holding that nationality-based quotas, like UEFA’s “3+2” rule, were in violation of the right to freedom of movement of workers. Following that decision, UEFA developed homegrown rules which reserved roster places for players who played for the club or for another club in the same NFA for three full seasons between the ages of 15-21. This paper reexamines homegrown rules in the light of covert discrimination jurisprudence to follow up on work published in 2013 by the EU Commission. While there is demonstrable progress in the number of foreign players who can claim homegrown status—especially club homegrown status—this review suggests an official re-visiting of the effectiveness of homegrown rules should be in order.