LISBON, Portugal (AP) — Players' union leaders want UEFA to ease the punishment imposed on Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain for breaking "Financial Fair Play" rules.
FIFPro Europe President Bobby Barnes hopes UEFA can find "some way of lessening the blow" to avoid excluding players from Champions League squads.
"The last thing we want is for players to miss the Champions League," Barnes told The Associated Press ahead of the final on Saturday, calling for "maybe a staged or phased version of the punishment."
A UEFA panel's sanctions for overspending include cutting senior player quotas for Man City and PSG to 21 from 25 in next season's competition.
That is intended to force clubs to promote home-trained young talent instead of relying so much on expensively bought players. Some elite players could be left ineligible to play in UEFA competitions.
Still, Barnes sees room for negotiation because UEFA has not yet specified how many homegrown players must be included in the 21.
"If there is a discussion to be had with UEFA then FIFPro would like to be involved in it," the former West Ham United and England youth player said. "With the best will in the world, players are not responsible for the financial running of the football club."
Squad limits were among wideranging penalties announced this month for nine European clubs, including fines of 60 million euros ($82 million) for the champions of England and France.
It was unclear if Man City and PSG must still select at least eight homegrown players — including four trained at the club, and four more within its home country — or be allowed as few as five.
UEFA said in a statement to the AP that it will give detail "in the coming days how it will apply the homegrown player element of the sanctions settlements."
Any relaxation on squad limit rules is likely to irritate many in the 200-member European Club Association, who have curbed spending to meet UEFA's demands.
The ECA, like FIFPro, has been a key stakeholder in UEFA's lengthy introduction of the new rules.
Barnes stressed that FIFPro "totally supports" the project.
"We understand something has to be done," he said. "I would like to think that if it happens in a phased way, it gives people an opportunity to get used to it and adjust."
Barnes said FIFPro also wants UEFA to look at relaxing rules on suspensions for yellow cards that forced Real Madrid midfielder Xabi Alonso to miss his team's 4-1 extra-time win over Atletico Madrid on Saturday.
The Real Madrid midfielder's one-match ban was triggered by receiving his third yellow card of the competition in the semifinals, the second leg against Bayern Munich.
UEFA operates different rules in its European Championship finals tournament. Yellow cards are wiped from disciplinary records after the quarterfinals to ensure no player misses the final for a yellow card offense.
FIFA has the same system at the World Cup.