South America fights back in battle for its youngsters
Brazilian club Vasco da Gama have become the latest to complain about European sides trying to sign their best young players. Last week, Vasco president Eurico Miranda accused Real Madrid of approaching 15-year-old Philippe Coutinho. Madrid have yet to comment on the issue.
“Coutinho is only 15 and the FIFA rules are clear, transfers abroad are only allowed for 18-year-olds,” Miranda said. “They try to get around the law by taking those responsible for the player to live and work abroad. They offer a job to the father and take the player. But they’re not doing that here at Vasco.
“We have reported Real Madrid to FIFA and the CBF (Brazilian Football Confederation) for their approach.”
Will FIFA take action?
Last year, the president of Argentina’s River Plate said that soccer’s governing body needed to beef up the rules which prevent the international transfers of under-18 players.
“The policy as it is doesn’t go far enough, it should be much more severe,” said Jose Maria Aguilar. “The way it happens is a club from a Spanish city contracts a woman to cook and by coincidence she has a 14-year-old football genius son.”
European clubs have been heard to argue that they are giving these players a chance to fully develop their talents in a way they would not be able to in their homeland. But that is hardly fair on the likes of River and Vasco, who are renowned for their youth policies.
Underneath the stands at River’s Monumental Stadium in northern Buenos Aires, the club has a primary and secondary school, gymnasiums and a dining area. The club even has a hotel where potential future players from the provinces can live while training.
Argentina and Brazil can hardly be said to have poor records when it comes to developing young players. But they simply do not have the economic clout of the European big boys.
Brian Homewood, Rio de Janeiro