Sepp Blatter's alleged romanticism about linking domestic clubs with their locality is rank. Yes, that's the stench settling over the game today. It stems from the approval given by FIFA's Congress to the so-called 6+5 rule which puts a quota on the number of foreign players a club may field.
The FIFA boss got his way, striking a death knell for football capitalism, free trade and economics in general. Hideous. The rule would mandate that clubs can start no more than five foreign players. Incredulously, it was passed by a 155-5 margin. Thankfully, this disastrous regulation seems in conflict with EU law and could be shot down, despite Blatter's promises to make the rule work within the confines of the law.
Perhaps I'm just a financial conservative, but what gives any leader the right to impose his will over independently run organizations, some of which are public entities with influential shareholders. If Arsenal wants to run 11 Frenchmen out there, it should be within its purview to do so.
Blatter allegedly wants the rule in place in the name of sportsmanship. Franz Beckenbauer is in Blatter's corner, quoted today by Reuters:
"We have clubs in Germany where there are no German players on the field. That is not in the interest of football and its future."Why? Club supporters could care less about a player's nationality once a jersey has been donned. All supporters care about are victories and trophies. Nationalities? That's for the Euro, Copa America, Asian Cup and World Cup.
Blatters's primary argument is the current landscape impedes the development of local talent? Oh really? Let's look at a mid-tier club such as Sporting Lisbon, one with an outstanding youth academy. The club has essentially become a feeder system for Europe's biggest clubs, Manchester United in particular. Ronaldo, Nani, Figo, Quaresma, Futre, Simao Sabrosa, Miguel Veloso all graduated from the academy, and contributed not only for the Uniteds and Barcelonas of the world, but brought trophies to Sporting.
This is the essence of any sport. Develop young talent, "exploit" it as long as possible, win while you can and seed the future. Losing young talent is an inevitability. Look at Ronaldo; is he long for United? Greener pastures are calling, and it should be within his right to seek out those pastures, as it should be United's right sell him to the highest bidder. This is the framework under which football thrives. This is the framework the 6+5 rule puts in jeopardy.
This press release on UEFA's homegrown rule points out that 6+5 is in conflict with the EU's concept of free movement of workers. The key phrase:
"Rules requiring that teams include a certain quota of 'home-grown players' could be accepted as being compatible with the Treaty [of Lisbon] provisions on free movement of persons if they do not lead to any direct discrimination based on nationality and if possible indirect discrimination effects resulting from them can be justified as being proportionate to a legitimate objective pursued, such as enhancing and protecting the training and development of talented young players'."Here's hoping 6+5 won't fly. It's against the grain of the game. It interferes with independent ownership, is potentially discriminatory and a sham. I hope this generates a slew of comments, because to me, 6+5, in this case, equals zero.