Friday, 30 May 2008

Kick the 6-5 plan into touch

Fifa's decision to back a proposal from Sepp Blatter to limit the number of foreign players in each football team to no more than 5 is a retrograde step.

As the EU has pointed out, such a proposal is incompatible with the right for European nationals to practise their trade anywhere in the EU. As such, it is a non-starter in terms of legality.

But supposing the proposal did go through, who would be the people most affected? Probably not the European players, who would still be able to go to just about any club they wanted, due to those freedom of movement rules. The ones who would be most affected would be African and Asian players, who would struggle to break into teams already stuffed full with the top European talent. The likes of Didier Drogba or Emanuel Adebayor would thus be denied a platform for their talents.

Although there is an issue about all the best African players now playing in Europe, which means that the game in Africa possibly hasn't developed as it should, the solution is not to slam the door shut on them.

Rather than trying to block the free movement of players, Fifa should instead be trying to tackle the extremes in wealth among football clubs directly, although we should recognise that successful clubs are always going to get more money than unsuccessful ones. I wonder if there is a case for Fifa introducing some sort of payroll levy on all top-flight professional clubs, at say 10% of the total wage bill. The money could be used to help grassroots development and to support clubs in lower divisions, many of whom struggle financially.

But trying to tackle the disparities in wealth among clubs by limiting the number of foreign players they can play is a bad idea and should be booted out.

1 comment:

Stephen B said...

I think the status of African and Asian players would be the same as in English County Cricket with Kolpak arrangements. Essentially, countries with an associate trading relationship are counted as EU, hence why Zimbabwean, South African and West Indian players have no problem joining the teams.

Interestingly the Indian IPL has required their teams to have some local members on the grounds that a completely 'foreign' team wouldn't attract a following in that local area.

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