Portugal 3 Brazil 2 France 2 Cote D’Ivoire , Netherlands, Serbia, Wales, Argentina, Germany, Ghana & Czech Republic 1 each.
That’s a nationality summary of the 21 (Drogba of Cote D’Ivoire saw red remember) players left on the field of play at the end of 120 minutes in the 2008 Champions League final – a final billed as being an “all English” final. An “all English” final with players from 12 countries. The managers weren’t English (A Scot & an Israeli) and even the clubs aren’t English – one is owned by a Russian, the other by Americans! Still they are at least located – for the time being anyway – in England.
However ownership isn’t my concern here. Its actually FIFA. At last weeks FIFA Congress in Sydney, FIFA managed to pass a resolution for the “6+5” rule, which basically means that at the commencement of each match each team must have in its starting line up at least 6 players eligible to play for their clubs home nation. Had the rule been in place for the Champions League final only Manchester United would have passed the criteria and even then only just – only 6 of the 18 players named in their squad were English. All started.
FIFA’s proposal is grossly unfair. Why should the Real Madrids, Manchester Uniteds, Celtics and Chelseas of the world be penalised for their wealth? Sport is supposed to be played on a level playing field. If Man Utd’s success enables them to sign the best players from around the world then isn’t that one of the benefits of being successful? How can it be fair for any one club be told which players they can and cannot play based on nationality? And signing the greats from around the world is no guarantee of success anyway, Real Madrids Galacticos taught us that. FIFA’s rule is bordering on racism – what happened to FIFA’s fair play policy? If this resolution becomes law then managers will ultimately be forced to pick players based on race……
And what about the players? Surely stopping someone from plying their trade is a form of restraint of trade? Didn’t we cross that bridge with the Bosman issue in the early 90’s?
It strikes me that this rule is purely designed to penalise the successful. Almost an anti-G14 Bill if you like. Or is it a response to Englands failure to qualify for Euro 2008? England – where the best 2 clubs in Europe are located, yet whose national team continually fail when it matters.
One hopes that the European Courts view this resolution as unlawful….and that we can continue to see club matches with the best players from all around the world involved.