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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Equal Rights For Russian And EU Players

MADRID, Spain - Opening the way for a possible new Bosman ruling, a Spanish judge has ruled that Celta de Vigo's Russian midfielder Valery Karpin has the same rights as a European Union player because of his country's associate agreement with the community, news reports said Wednesday.

In a sentence Tuesday, Madrid judge Fausto Gonzalez said Karpin must be counted as an EU player and not as a foreign player.

EU teams can field any amount of native or EU players but can only have five non-EU players on its books and no more than three on the pitch during a game.

The situation regarding EU player numbers arises from the 1995 Bosman court ruling - named after Belgian player Jean Marc Bosman - which ended limits on foreign players in Europe's main leagues and gave players freedom to move at the end of their contract.

Spain's official sports body, the Superior Sports Council, as well as the soccer federation and league committee said they would respect the ruling but would appeal it. They had previously denied Karpin's request to have EU status.

?I was always hopeful,? Karpin was quoted as saying by El Pais newspaper.

?I took this decision because it benefitted me, but I never thought I'd be a pioneer

?It will be good for the league but bad for Spanish players,? he added.

The decision, while restricted to Karpin's case, could have far reaching consequences if followed on by other foreign players whose countries have associate accords with the EU.

At the moment there are 16 such players in Spain's Primera Division.

Celta said it planned to play Karpin, 30, as a community player in its next game on Saturday against FC Barcelona.

Born in Estonia, Karpin has played for Russia more than 30 times and is a former star of CSKA Moscow and Spartak Moscow. He signed for Spain's Real Sociedad in 1996 and also played for Valencia before joining Celta three seasons ago.