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Platini wins backing over ban on U-18 transfers

A BAN on transferring under-18 players between European nations moved a step closer on Monday, after an agreement by a panel of top clubs, leagues and officials.

The decision by UEFA's influential Professional Football Strategy Council aims to help stop a practice described by UEFA President Michel Platini as "child trafficking."

Council members signed off on an agreement that "no international transfers - or first registration of non-nationals ?? of players under 18 into Europe or within Europe should be permitted."

"The question of minors is above all a moral and ethical issue," Platini said. "We have a duty to take concrete steps to protect young players and training clubs."

The resolution aims to persuade FIFA, football's world governing body, to close a European loophole in the international transfer regulations. It allows for 16- and 17-year-olds to be transferred between clubs in the European Union because they have full employment rights in the 27-nation bloc.

The existing rules allowed English club Arsenal to sign Cesc Fabregas, now an established Spain international, from FC Barcelona in 2003 when he was 16. But football authorities have become concerned that schoolboys are being lured from their homes and families to move abroad with the promise of a lucrative professional contract that often never materializes.

The strategy council includes representatives of the powerful European Club Association.


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