Africa News blog

African business, politics and lifestyle

The dream just got harder

By Mark Gleeson
March 13, 2009

Two new proposed sets of new footballing legislation would make it even more difficult for Africa’s top soccer talent to achieve their dream of playing in Europe.

The proposed 6+5 regulation that FIFA president Sepp Blatter has been vigorously touting will mean less chance for African players to find lucrative employment with clubs in Europe, where the vastly better pay makes it a destination of choice for so many footballers from this continent.
Blatter wants to ensure more local players feature in domestic football, which over the years in Europe has become blurred by liberal EU labour laws and the mass migration of footballing talent in all directions.
It is 10 years ago, for example, since a club in the English Premier League last fielded an all-English side and, although as a product the premier league has become a world brand because of its world starts, there is a move now to restrict the number of foreigners playing in England and elsewhere.

UEFA president Michel Platini has received backing for his plan to scrap international transfer for players aged under 18, which will mean African talent will have to wait until past their 18th
birthday before being able to head off to Europe.

While Platini’s plan is designed to prevent young players from around Europe being exploited by unscrupulous agents, it will also stymie the path of the continent’s best young talent.

Clubs seek to take African players of potential across to Europe at an early age, the theory being that a lack of coaching means many need to be instilled with good basics before their formative years are over and bad habits form.

That is why top European clubs scout the African under-17 championship, which starts in Algeria later this month, much more vigorously than they do the under-20 championship, where players are in their late teens but deemed already ‘too old’ to transfer.

It is the economic reality of Africa that players dream of a move to Europe where the money they stand to earn proves life changing, not only for the footballer but for a multitude of dependents too.

It is an indictment of the Africa continent, of course, that its most talented have to migrate elsewhere for proper remuneration but there is no getting away from the irony that Platini’s attempt to protect youngsters also serves to vastly diminish their chances of a better life.

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