Madrid: FIFA president Sepp Blatter called for greater policing of foreign takeovers of soccer clubs, warning that the sport could be damaged if it remains unchecked.

``We need to be careful football doesn't end up in the hands of people who want football to serve them, instead of them serving football,'' Blatter said.

He described some foreign investors as ``not transparent,'' but said the problem was beyond the ambit of soccer's governing bodies. ``It is a very delicate matter and we need the help of the judicial authorities,'' Blatter said.

Icelandic federation president Eggert Magnusson headed a $161 million takeover of West Ham. It becomes the sixth English Premier League club to be taken over by foreigners, after Fulham, Chelsea, Manchester United, Aston Villa and Portsmouth.

``There are investors who buy clubs, especially in England, which happens to be the most attractive,'' Blatter said.

Blatter said politicians' involvement in clubs, particularly in Italy, also represents a threat. ``We must safeguard football's independence and we need the help of politicians to do so,'' he said.

Blatter also reiterated FIFA's desire to have a minimum of six home grown players in every team, describing it as a means of achieving ``a balance in the different clubs and leagues.''

Restriction needed

Referring to a Serie A game last season in which Inter Milan fielded only one European player, Blatter said a restriction would help the clubs to become more equal.

``Local and national identification doesn't exist when there are 11 players from 11 different countries,'' he said. ``It might give clubs more incentive to train and develop young players themselves rather than just sign ones who are already developed.'' AP

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