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The Shocking Truth Behind Blatter’s Foreign Quota Myth

United fans’ heads are buzzing with the latest ludicrous comments to come from Sepp Blatter, likening Ronaldo’s situation at United to that of a slave. Football today is in a far more grave state that we ever could imagine with men like him and Michel Platini in charge.

However, before today, his most controversial argument had to be his persistence in implementing a restriction on how many foreigners could play in each team. Whilst rejected outright by the EU as “direct discrimination”, Blatter has continued to push this idea.

He claimed a motivating factor for this was England’s recent failure to qualify for Euro 2008, which he believed to be down to the foreigners we had in our league. This idea was met with some approval, particularly from players inside the England camp.

“I think there is a risk that there are too many foreign players coming over, which will affect our national team eventually, if it’s not doing so now,” Steven Gerrard said. “I’m sure it (a quota) will definitely help our national team, if that’s the case, and we want as many home grown players playing in the league as possible. As an England player we want top players involved in the squad and I’m sure that will help.”

However, if we delve a bit deeper, and look comparatively at another leagues in Europe, the revelations are rather surprising.

“Football is unpredictable and sometimes without any logic but it is a fact that in the strongest English teams the best players are not always English,” Blatter said. “So where are the best English players coming from?”

As a club over country man, the state of the English national team is not much concern of mine. Whilst I like to see local and English talent in my team, for the sake of relating to the players as much as anything else, I’ve been more than happy to have Eric Cantona, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Cristiano Ronaldo, and the like, at United. Above all else, I want to see my team successful. I want us to challenge for the major trophies every year, and if combining foreign talent with English players achieves that, then I’m all for it.

However, Blatter’s on my hit list at the moment and I’ll take any excuse I can to have a pop at him.

If the English national side was filled with a bunch of average players, then it would be easier to see Blatter’s argument. However, if you look at the starting XI, they measure up, player for player, against the top national sides in the World. The weaker positions are goalkeeper, right back, right winger, and striker, though other than that, when you look at how the other players perform for their domestic side, they are up there with some of the best for their positions.

Rio Ferdinand, John Terry, Ashley Cole, Steven Gerrard, Owen Hargreaves, Frank Lampard, Michael Carrick, Joe Cole and Wayne Rooney have all been exceptional players for their clubs, but typically don’t replicate anything of their club form when representing their country.

Many would argue that it is not the players who are lesser than their national rivals, rather their management and attitude towards representing their country which are to blame for their poor form.

When thinking about Blatter’s point about the best English players, I decided to take a look at last year’s FIFA World Player of the Year rankings, where the votes come from coaches and captains of international teams.

When looking at the the Premiership players which featured in the top 28, we can see that 8 of them made the cut. In order, they were Ronaldo, Drogba, Gerrard, Rooney, Essien, Cech, Lampard and Terry. Half of the best players coming from our league are English.

In comparison to Italy, an argument in support of foreign quotas arises. Of the 6 players who feature, 4 of them are Italian. As the current World Cup holders and Euro 2008 finalists, it certainly suggests that their national side is benefiting from their homegrown talent.

However, when we look at the players who are from the Primera División, the domestic league of the country who just won Euro 2008, we see a very different story.

10 players from La Liga featured in the same list, in order, Messi, Ronaldinho, Henry, Cannavaro, Eto’o, Riquelme,van Nistelrooy, Deco, Marquez and Torres. In contrast to the 4 out of 8 players ranking from the Premiership being homegrown, just 1 out of the 10 players from La Liga is Spanish, and he came in 26th out of 28. Gerrard (6th), Rooney (13th), Lampard (19th) and Terry (23rd) all finished ahead of him.

If we look at this logically, it suggest there is absolutely no correlation between the best players in each league being homegrown and their relative success nationally. If the current best national side in Europe have just 1 of the best 10 players in their league originating from that country, there is nothing to suggest that if England placed more emphasis on nurturing English talent, rather than buying talent from abroad, that they’d be in any better a situation now.

All that can be shown is that by implementing this quota, shunning talent from abroad in preference for English players, our league and our domestic sides would be weakened.

FIFA and UEFA are certainly not impressed that we had an all English European Cup final last season, and that for the two previous seasons three quarters of the semi-finalists sides came from the Premiership. It is certainly no coincidence that Blatter’s plans for this foreign quota came in to being when English sides started to show their dominance in European football.

Last year, the Premier League responding to Blatter’s proposal, saying we strive to have the best players in the Premiership, with a mixture of both foreign and English talent. “Clubs are making huge investments in their academies. Academy players are coming through at first-team level and national-team level,” said its spokesman, Dan Johnson. “They have to be at the requisite standard. It’s better to have quality youngsters coming through than being forced to play players who frankly aren’t up to playing Premier League or even national level.”

The best English players from our league represent the best teams in our league. Of the 22 players to start in this year’s European Cup final, 10 of them were English. It is not a case of the most successful teams in England being those that overwhelmingly consist of foreign players. United and Chelsea combine some the best English talent with some of the best foreign talent, and it produces successful formulas, and doesn’t that just get on Blatter’s tits.

For as long as the EU stay strong on the equal opportunities stance in Europe, and as long as teams can fight off the bullying tactics of Real Madrid, despite Platini and Blatter’s best efforts, then the Premier League will remain as it is… the strongest league in Europe. And as current Champions of that league, it only says great things about the quality of Manchester United.

About Scott

Scott is the editor of Red Matters - 50 Years of Supporting Manchester United and an author of Play Like Fergie's Boys and Not Nineteen Forever. He writes for ESPN, The Metro and Bleacher Report. Follow @R_o_M on Twitter.

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  1. john schembri says:

    I need professional legal advice; preferably of the sort that will hold its own in International Law. You see I am desperately sifting through the entire etymological scope of the English language for a few words that can help me express the contempt in which I hold Michel Platini, UEFA President. Stupid; crass; incompetent; obtuse; boorish; boring; insipid; facetious and even plain ugly all spring to mind, almost simultaneously, quickly followed by a stream of others, laced with even more disparaging expletives. But of course, I am not allowed to express all this in public, am I? Probably not – so I won’t; at least not in so many words.

    What has brought all this about, you may be asking. Well, if you are, you must be equally stupid, crass, incompetent ….. No! Stop! Let us not go there.

    Okay here goes. The last time I checked it was still okay to express a hypothesis in public – and this is mine. I firmly believe that football today is suffering from a very severe malaise inflicted by three categories of cowardly “stakeholders”, whom I shall collectively refer to as The Untouchables. They come in three classes – or, better still, categories, in case anyone should mistakenly construe I am according these parasites with any virtue or class – and in my book these are: the Game’s Top officials; Agents and the Footballing Media.

    As befits any argument built on logic, I shall address each one of them, starting at the very top – Football’s top officials.

    Here I am a little hamstrung as I am at a loss where to start. With Sepp Blatter, perhaps, who periodically spouts off rubbish with unholy ease and alarming impunity, perhaps safe in the knowledge that his position affords much immunity. Or I could focus on, say, the English FA; but that would be merely a sorry tale of incompetence and professional flatulence (with apologies to the late Brian Clough). No; it’s best to go to the source and tackle the bane – Monsieur Platini (MP) himself. For the sake of ease in writing, and despite a sneaky suspicion that the pompous weasel will actually like the implied title, I shall use the abbreviation.

    MP’s cheek is matched only by his insipid looks. He has ploughed into two pieces of controversy against the team I support, Manchester United Football Club, Amen, and as far as I am concerned, and insofar as is possible from my part, he has done this unwelcome but certainly not with impunity.

    First – he had the gall (Gauls do not have the other manly alternative) to besmirch United’s Champions League triumph by suggesting that they had cheated their way to it!! And here I am worried about silly low-scale libel!! If MP requires an education in sporting cheating I shall provide him with one, here and now. Cheating is winning the European Cup by virtue of a penalty which physically never happened. Remember that one, MP? Cheating is allowing AC Milan to compete in the Champions League in the face of proven corruption. Cheating is what Juventus FC, MP’s baby cot, were found guilty of and penalised for by the Italian FA, with no corresponding sanction by UEFA. Cheating is allowing a goal to stand in a World Cup quarter final which was blatantly punched into the net. Cheating is what your own UEFA did as recently as last year when it failed to punish Roma FC for scandalous policing in the Eternal City. Thankfully United took matters in their own hand by proceeding to duly demolish eleven dolly-birds at the Theatre of Dreams in a performance unmatched in Champions league history and one the pampered little lady boys are not likely to forget for the rest of their lives, bless their little cotton socks! Cheating is UEFA and FIFA conspiring to allow Real Madrid to trade in football utilising State subsidies in the manner of a preferential commodity. Cheating is spouting off non-sense purely because you can, from the comfort of your position. Sorry! What am I thinking? That is cowardice, not cheating! My apologies ……………

    By now, even you should have got my drift, MP, or not? So next time you have the penchant for self-importance, at least bother to engage brain gefore mouth. Even the little you so obviously have should provide you with a modicum of protection from embarrassment, take my word for it.

    You see, MP, you are so evidently a football Untouchable. You think that because you played the game, that automatically authorises you to fix whatever you know or perceive to be wrong with it. Tell me; did you voice your opinion to Manchester United and Chelsea during the CL Final? If not, and I very much suspect so, then why not? You had a wonderful opportunity to do so then; or not? And if you had, would you mind giving us their account on your objections? From where I stood on Wednesday 21 May 2008 you smugly handed out medals to both sets of players, glowing with self importance, though somewhat uneasy that it was Giggs you had to hand the Big Eared One to, and not perhaps a Thuram, a Vieira or a Wenger or a Del Piero even. Well you know what – tough !!

  2. Gabriel says:

    Seriously, Scott the Red, you should lead Manchester United in an ‘Anti-United’ propaganda battle with FIFA and UEFAs’ top guns. Your name already fits the bill.

  3. Aziz says:

    Hitler,Mugabe,Blatter and plattini have 1 thng in common they dnt knw what they r doing.

  4. Phill says:

    spot on

  5. Gabriel says:

    schrembi, I thought i was the only one thinking about Platini and Blatters’ blatant attempt to bring down the premiership with this propaganda. So I decide to come up with my own, enjoy:

    United: A Scapegoat for Premiership Witch-hunt

    With all the current demaening and undermining media-bashing United is recieving this summer from the so-called leaders of the Footballing world; Sepp Blatter, Michel Platini, Roman Calderon, it is hard not to point out the correlation between this and the emerging dominance of the Premiership. It is not a hidden fact that the balance of power in the footballing world is gradually shifting towards England, with our teams occupying three of the four semi-finals slots, and finally both of the final slots culminating in an English club lifting the Champions league trophy.

    This triumph for the premiership however didn’t sit well with those at the top of Footballs’ governing bodies; Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini. Ever since that Champions league Final, there have been serial & unending ‘Anti-English’ comments and proposals by those two.

    Let’s start with Sepp Blatters’ 6 + 5 rule. When did the amount of foreign players in a Club team become such a problem? Arsenal, Inter Milan and others have been doing it for seasons and nothing seemed to be wrong with it, but as soon as two English teams made the Champions League Final, it all of a sudden became a pressing issue. It can be argued that English teams possess an unfair advantage with the amount of money being poured into our league by foreign investors, thereby requiring the teams to get top quality players, which might or might not be English, but why should we be punished for trying to strive for excellence? Are we not responsible for the increased awareness and popularity of football around the globe?

    Also there’s the Platini idea of ‘Re-negotiating the Champions League Prize-money’. Why has this issue never come up before last years’ Champions League Final? Apparently, it is because three premiership teams( who played football with other teams fairly ) were in the semi-finals and hence took a large proportion of the CL prize-money. Is it not UEFA that set up these rules and rewards, so why is it a problem when a set of teams are reaping the benefits. In fact, during the 1999-2000 season, they were three Spanish teams in the semi’s and an all-Spain final, yet no one complained; also during the 2002-2003 campaign the same thing happened with the italians and still no one complained. However, when the English with their ‘billionaire-backed’ clubs acheived the same feat, it is unfair, like the top Spanish and Italian teams don’t have wealthy financial backing.

    Then there’s the Ronaldo saga, with Calderons’ demaening and undermining tactics. This guy has broken every rule in the ‘Club Relations and Ethics’ book. Even reporting him to FIFA didn’t slow him down; but why should it, apparently FIFA sees nothing wrong with an opposing club publicly commanding and trying to undermine a club in an attempt to acquire it’s prized asset. It has got to the point that Calderon is accusing Manchester of trying to rob Ronaldo of his ‘dream’ and also lying publicly, saying they have already signed him. What is FIFAs’ response? Sepp Blatter comes out to say we are ‘enslaving’ Ronaldo and should let him go. If i’m not mistaken, did he not just sign a contract renewal which entitled him to an increased salary of £120,000 a week? Is that slave money? I beleive it was UEFA that created the Bosman Law which was intended to allow clubs to keep players and also allow the players to leave within two or three years of their contract expiration dates, depending on their age. Ronaldo just signed a contract extension till 2012, so don’t we have the right to refuse the transfer request; isn’t that why the rule was created?

    I understand that there is a status quo in the footballing world where only a niche of clubs who were really suceessful in the past reign over all. The scene is changing and understandably, these clubs are trying to fight it, but if the top Footballing organisations can’t take a neutral stance, how can they crticise us for using foreign multi-millionaire backing to propel us into excellence. United is not the only English club suffering here; look at Arsenal and their players, Flamini went to AC milan and Adebayor is also considering the same move when the team is not even in the Champions league!!!

    As far as i’m concerned, Blatter, Platini and Calderon can come up with all the propaganda they want, United will continue to dominate Europe and so will the Premiership. We might have strong financial backing but so do the top teams in Europe and wer’e going to break their stronghold on European Football by playing on the pitch and winning the trophies, no matter who we have representing us, Foreign or English!!

  6. Robinson Macgregor says:

    Is the relationship between Ramon Calderon and Sepp Blatter closer than we think……Overheard at Wimbledon(where Ramon watched the young man ‘Nadal’)…..’I like to see young men like Ronaldo move’………Sepp”He reminds me of a slave”……….hmmmmm……will this ultimately see the ‘outing’ of the ‘Greasy Three’…..latest quote from…..Ronaldo…’I am a slave’…………..or as the great Duncan Norville would say ‘Chase me’………something to ponder……is this a white agenda or a pink one….?…

  7. romeo says:

    Platini and Blatter are twats who think they know the game when they clearly don’t.
    They just make comments based on their self belief and emotions. I have always been a big football fan but people like them and Ronaldo make the game look disgusting.
    Countries should be allowed to have their own leagues with their own rules with no interference from these people as long as they are there.

  8. Time to say Goodbye says:

    I just looked at the Fifa website and it doesn’t mention any about their presidents “Slavery”comments….

    Maybe a few reminder emails would help!!!!!!

    It funny considering in March he was going on about how players should have to honour their contracts!!!!

  9. Tom F says:

    Aziz – Hitler and Mugabe are not to be compared with Blatter. That is just totally out of order.

    Hitler and Mugabe both knew/know EXACTLY what they’re doing.

    Blatter, however, doesn’t have any idea what so ever.

    I have a friend who for years has been a full on United supporter. He has turned his back on English football because, understandably, he believes we’re in a lose/ lose situation.

    It is a really sad time for football.

  10. mark says:

    Great writing as well as some terrific points brought up in the posts above. I can’t help but agree with everything you guys have said, but let me bring another theory into the mix.

    Powerful people do anything they can to protect their power. Obviously, Mr. Blatter is a powerful, albeit stupid, person and right now he feels threatened.

    He has these absolutely ‘genius’ ideas which he feels he must share with the public so he can bask in his perceived ‘glory’. If these notions are not widely accepted (see Slavery) or possible (see Player Foreign Quotas) then he refuses to admit he’s wrong and instead finds a scapegoat. Right now that scapegoat is none other than The Greatest Fucking Football Team in the World: Manchester United.

    Manchester United have always been a club that people love to hate. From these people’s point’s of view we have never really earned a title and instead have found some way to cheat the system. I attribute this to them not being able to imagine a club being so good, and their petty brains being incapable of comprehending what United are really about (down-to-Earth players who would rather sit on the bench at United than be a star for another team or make more money? Blasphemy!!!)

    Back to the point. “Blatini” are using Manchester United as a scapegoat as the reason for their unpopular/impossible ideas failing. First came the comment that clubs in debt shouldn’t be allowed to compete in the Champions league, next was the whole foreign player quota piece of shit idea, and lastly the whole Ronaldo fiasco. In each of these incidents Blatini has always taken the stance opposite to what Manchester United wish.

    to be continued…

  11. UnitedRay says:

    Seriously scott. After years of trying to make sense of nonsensical remarks and decisions in football, havent you given up yet? If everyone in football can be logical we would have goal line tech etc years ago. Just ignore them when the are bull crapping


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