The soccer world is discussing these days the famous 6+5 rule and determining how many foreign players should be allowed to play in national championships or European Club competitions.

In continental European basketball, the rules are currently way more complicated, as they vary from league to league and don’t even have any regulation when it comes to European competitions. As a result, for example, Russian teams build different rosters for their local league than for the Euroleague, as Russian rules require at least one domestic player to be on the court at every moment.

Here is a summary on the current situation, according to somebody who needs to know what he’s talking about: French LNB president René le Goff. Le Goff put up a nice overview about the various European leagues and their foreign player policies.

*penalty if new contract is not a U20 Lithuanian
** minimum eight of 16 contracts must be Austrian signees

As you can see, the rules are totally different from country to country and discussions are going on everywhere on how to change this system to promote local talent yet stay in line with EU regulations and maintain a proper sportive level.

The latest change in these rules comes from France, where the union of professional basketball teams has decided to raise (!) the level of foreign players allowed from four to six and to make no distinction between US and EU players: A decision that scandalized a lot of media lobbying to raise the minimum number of locals to regain a “local identity” among the fans becoming more and more used to seeing teams completely change their roster at every summer signing period.

In Germany, where the rules are even more open for US imports, the club had created a road map that foresees the raise of the local quota to four players for the next season, but a decision of not further increasing the number of locals has recently been made. A league in which just one German player is among the Top 50 in scoring but has seen rising attendance for years is now undecided as to the direction they should go; the local talent level is (at the moment) limited, and the Bundesliga is probably the most Americanized league in all of Europe and needs specific recruiting philosophies due to their special rules.

Overemphasis on a minimum number of local players creates a raise in salaries paid to local players if the talent level is limited. Additionally, limits on the number of foreigners (EU/Cotonou) is not in line with common EU regulations and created the famous Bosman Case, which opened the doors for massive international player movements over the last years.

Leagues have tried to adapt to this by putting up positive quotas in establishing a minimum number of roster spots that must be filled with locals, something that works well in Spain, for example, but created the “Quota-German” in the Bundesliga. The Quota-German is a player that is only sitting on the bench because of requirement of three local players while the team plays a nine-player rotation with US guys. This is an unsatisfactory situation for everybody, at least it seems as the rule has been changed for a status-quo recently.

“So what about the HGP?” asks the current edition of French magazine Basketnews. The name HGP has been introduced by UEFA and stands for “Home Grown Players.” The problem is that EU regulations will probably no longer allow positive quotas, because they still disadvantage EU foreigners. In general, an Italian growing up in Spain (even if born in Spain but choosing Italian nationality) is not allowed to play as a local: This is considered not in line with regulations and goes against current positive quota rules.

So UEFA, in line with the European Union, is discussing the definition of the HGP. Currently, a player that has played a minimum of three years between his 15th and 21st birthday in the country X is considered as a X-HGP even without holding citizenship in country X. And this counts for a player of any nationality in the world. In this case, a positive quota of HGPs is allowed. For example, a player born in Cameroon with Cameroon citizenship but relocating to France at age 15 would be considered a French HGP after having played three years of youth basketball in France.

This HGP rule would give domestic leagues a way to promote players raised in their country without going against EU law. The question of a good minimum level of HGP per team remains, however, and will probably be discussed by every league. However, establishing regulations in the Euroleague will not hide the fact that you could create two totally different teams for the two competitions, a situation that is currently not really a problem.

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