November 15, 2007

Foreign player quota gathers steam in England.: UK Sports Minister wants to study the impact of foreign players on the local game. I've been noticing a recent increase in reports of various soccer notables calling for foreign player limits in Europe. FIFA president Sepp Blatter seems to have re-ignited the debate by saying he'll challenge the EU anti-discrimination laws in order to instate the "only five foreign players in the starting 11" quota system. Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson agrees. Steve Coppell (Reading manager) claimed it would improve the quality of the national team. Steve Gerrard (Liverpool captain, local boy and England midfielder) agrees. What's going on here? It's not like this is a new issue. And lots of these managers and their high-end teams are first in line to benefit from open trade in international players. Why is this an issue now? What's your take on this?

posted by worldcup2002 to soccer at 12:49 PM - 16 comments

I have been following this story for a while, and think the idea is rubbish. Quotas will dilute the product (football) right when the league's popularity internationally is exploding--probably due to the Internet and cable/sat television. Sounds like shooting ones self in the foot. My guess is that England's poor showing in Euro '08 so far, and International play (really since 1966), is a part of why this is a hot issue. A bit of football xenophobia, perhaps? I have no clue. I just hope this doesn't come to fruition.

posted by scully at 01:24 PM on November 15, 2007

There were player quotas in England (and in the rest of Europe) until the Bosman ruling, in 1995. As for limits improving the quality of the national team, well, until the Bosman ruling, England won every world cup, right? What? Oh. Player quotas contravene European law. They're also stupid. If England wants to have a better English team, the FA needs to pour a ton of money into youth academies, like France did with Clairefontaine. The only way to get better English players is to grow them from scratch.

posted by Toxteth O'Grady at 01:26 PM on November 15, 2007

I agree with both of you - it's a diversion to keep the heat off McClaren. If the England team somehow manage to qualify for the Euros, all this talk will die down pretty quickly. If they don't, there's a chance this might get pushed further in an effort to continue to ignore the thorny issue of "why are England crap?" and protect the jobs of the Muppets causing the problem.

posted by JJ at 01:56 PM on November 15, 2007

Hm, maybe this could be applied to other sports! For now own, 3/6 your on-ice hockey players must be American born. Unless you're a Canadian team, then 3/6 of your players must be Canadian born. All in the name of national pride!

posted by jmd82 at 02:09 PM on November 15, 2007

There were player quotas in England (and in the rest of Europe) until the Bosman ruling, in 1995 Sorry, Toxteth, you might be a little confused, because two separate events happened at about the same time. The European Court's Bosman ruling allowed out of contract players to have a free transfer, as the former club could not charge a transfer fee once the contract had expired. That is, clubs no longer held registrations indefinitely. The European court was dealing with player quotas as a separate case - you may remember that in UEFA competitions (Champions League etc) there was a three foreigner limit. The Court found that this breached the free movement of labour in the EU, and the quota (for European players) was subsequently illegal. UEFA then decided that all quotas would be removed. As you say, the current debate in England is therefore about a quota on non-EU players, as limiting EU residents would be illegal. Whatever you think about England's young players and their opportunities, the other problem with quotas relates to costs. Quotas will drive up the price of qualified players (Remember Andy Cole's transfer to Man U becuase Fergie needed English players for the Champions League?), and poorer clubs will suffer from having to pay higher wages for EU players. African and South American players of the same ability are cheaper. There's a whole David Ricardo Economics 101 thesis here.

posted by owlhouse at 03:43 PM on November 15, 2007

Bosman also dealt with the quota question, though, as seen in Paragraph 15 of the "summary" section (and Operative Part number 2) of the Bosman ruling. After Bosman, it's true that quotas were removed by UEFA, but it was Bosman that got that ball rolling.

posted by Toxteth O'Grady at 04:55 PM on November 15, 2007

You're right Toxteth. I must have got confused with the removal of all quotas, not just for EU players, which wasn't a Court ruling, just a UEFA one. But how cool is it that the European Court has such accessible information? Other jurisdictions take note.

posted by owlhouse at 05:13 PM on November 15, 2007

It doesn't matter how many English players clubs develop. Their price will always be higher than an equivalent foreigner. Supply and demand. English clubs want English players if at all possible, so it stands to reason. I would like to see a local core with all teams. I'd like Italian teams to have mainly Italian players, French teams to have mainly French players, etc. Otherwise, what's the point of having separate national leagues? Might as well go straight to a Euro super league, and nobody wants that. Player quotas would also strengthen leagues in poorer or smaller countries. Presently leagues such as Portugal, Scandanavia and Eastern Europe have to cope with all their best players - and many mediocre players - plying their trade in England, Spain and Italy. Having said all that, I don't know if there's any practical way to enforce any kind of quota. Rugby Union is different to football in that the RFU pays the clubs for the use of their players, and can give extra payments to clubs that field a minimum number of England-qualified players. With the money washing around the Premier League, the top clubs are far richer than the FA, so I can't see that sort of solution working.

posted by salmacis at 04:58 AM on November 16, 2007

I agree with both of you - it's a diversion to keep the heat off McClaren. Agreed. McClaren and the FA are preparing for the riots that will start when England fail to qualify, and they will fail to qualify. Russia will beat Isreal, or England will lose to Croatia, or both. The FA needs an excuse handy for that occasion. The Three Lions got beat by Macedonia at home in a game that mattered. The FA would have us believe it's because the players aren't good enough, and not because they hired another incompetent nincompoop with neither the imagination nor stones required to manage a National Team. Robinson, Beckham, and Lampard get to wear the shirt regardless of their own performance or the performance of players below them challenging for a spot. The manager and squad are not picked on merit or ability and haven't been for a long time. The FA wants the same for EPL teams. "Not English enough" is just a prop used by the powers in English football to excuse the hiring of a bad English manager. Also, Alex Ferguson and Gerrard can go jump of a fucking bridge. What a bunch of hypocrites! If either of their teams were required to follow the rules they pretend to promote, both would be mid-table. Utd beat Blackburn 2-0 in their last match. Ferguson used a total of 3 British players. Liverpool beat Fulham 2-0 that weekend with the same number of British players. Society, whether you are in America, England, or India has a bad habit of blaming their ills on "those foreigners". No jobs?==foreigners Devalued currency?==foreigners High cost of living?==foreigners Skyrocketing real estate?==foreigners Crap football with 70 year old tactics?==foreigners

posted by r8rh8r27 at 10:30 AM on November 16, 2007

Martin Samuel explains the real problem with English football here In short, "This country does not produce footballers. It produces right backs, central midfield players, centre halves. It has got to the stage where Englandís players are not just married to one position, they are married to one way of operating in that position, and to specific teammates around them. Even more incredibly, we indulge this." It's an excellent article AND there is a magnificent picture of Angelina cleavage for good measure.

posted by r8rh8r27 at 11:23 AM on November 16, 2007

The Three Lions got beat by Macedonia at home in a game that mattered. England drew with Macedonia at home, 0-0. Still an awful result.

posted by holden at 01:40 PM on November 16, 2007

r8h8r27 -- I agree with the substance of what you're saying and not just playing gotcha, but I have to correct one other fact. Utd beat Blackburn 2-0 in their last match. Ferguson used a total of 3 British players. Five British players saw action for United last weekend -- Wes Brown, Rio Ferdinand, Ryan Giggs, Owen Hargreaves (all starters), and Michael Carrick (sub). Depending on the formation and needs, once Scholes is back, United could reasonably start up to 6 Brits.

posted by holden at 01:49 PM on November 16, 2007

My apologies. If I'm gonna rant, I should google before hand. I was just going off memory for Utd's lineup (I still didn't believe you about the draw and had to look it up...dementia setting in..?). Anywho. Of the 11 players on the pitch, 4 were English (carrick was sub-ed for hargraves) and Ferguson wants to impose a mandate? He can go right ahead if so inclined. He is the manager, he can play 11 Englishmen if wants for every game. Chances are he would soon find himself ranked among the clubs that do play a lot of Englishmen, like Sunderland, West Ham, and Middlesbrough. Those teams don't win much hardware. Gerrard's opinion is even more ridiculous. He is essentially buying the argument that making the EPL the best league in the world (by pursuing the best players from around the world) hurts English football.--Laughable and self retorting, right?--His club is Spain North. Crouch sits on his bench and rots while American owners drive a Brinks truck from Catalonia to Andalusia. The other solid English international, Carragher, quit on his teammates and Country for club football and was never criticized by Gerrard. I wonder what Gerrard thinks is more important for English football; having an actual center half to replace the injured Captain, or forcing Man.City and Arsenal to add one more Englishman to their 23 man squad?

posted by r8rh8r27 at 03:04 PM on November 16, 2007

UK Sports Minister wants... I guess I should disclose that I am against any proposal made by any politician affecting sports. I realize this is a blanket statement and someone will soon point out an obvious exception to my rule, but I don't care. Politicians should stick to politics and let teams decide who to start at right back. p.s. Go Scotland!

posted by r8rh8r27 at 03:22 PM on November 16, 2007

r8rh8r27: So long as fans place country results behind club ones, what incentive does a club have to change. Imagine Liverpool, say, went with a a maximum of 3 foreign players, for example. Imagine they spent a season in the bottom half of the table. How many Liverpool fans would say, "Oh well, it'll help the national side! We don't care!" One? Two?

posted by rodgerd at 01:04 AM on November 17, 2007

Imagine Liverpool, say, went with a a maximum of 3 foreign players, for example. Imagine they spent a season in the bottom half of the table. At some point in the 70s (pre-Dalglish, obviously), it was seriously suggested that the England team be made up of the entire Liverpool starting XI, with Irishman Steve Heighway replaced by Paul Mariner (then of Ipswich). It would have been a damn good national team, too. From my point of view, I am torn between seeing players from my local community playing for my local team and the realisation that football is just another commodity. And if it is a commodity, then an EU quota system will discriminate against poorer countries in exactly the same way that the Common Agricultural Policy does. The benefits of globalisation only accrue to all when there is a level playing field. If trade in agriculture was freed up, it would do more than 100 years of aid and soft loans to countries in Africa in eliminating poverty. A single cow in Scotland receives 6,000 quid of subsidies annually - enough to run a school in most of Africa. The same with football. Why should my ticket or TV money be used to subsidise mediocre players from developed nations when a more talented African can't get a game in the rich leagues of Europe? If Europe can't produce footballers efficiently and (say) Ghana can, then that's where you should 'buy' them. David Ricardo, over 200 years ago, said much the same thing about English textiles and Portuguese wine. Because you wouldn't drink English wine or wear a Portuguese suit.

posted by owlhouse at 02:30 AM on November 18, 2007

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