Friday afternoon question: Does 6 + 5 equal nothing but trouble?

May 30, 2008

Blatter listens

FIFA president Sepp Blatter’s plans to limit the number of foreign players in a team, otherwise known as the “6+5″ rule, received overwhelming backing at FIFA’s congress in Sydney on Friday.

His plans, which would see clubs allowed to field a maximum of five foreign players, are contradictory to European Union laws and Brussels has already warned of legal action against any country which allows this rule to be implemented. Many national associations, leagues and clubs also say the plan is unfair and unworkable.

Blatter is forging ahead with the idea “for the good of the game” and says he has the backing of the fans.
    
But does he? Would such a rule make it fairer for smaller clubs? Or would it lead to, say, Manchester United and Chelsea buying all the best English players, or Real Madrid cherry-picking Spanish players for reasons of nationality rather than ability?

UEFA says its ”home-grown player” rule — which has the backing of Brussels — is a “more balanced” approach.

Under this rule, clubs would have to have in their squads at least eight locally trained players, defined as players who have spent three years with that club or a club in the same association between the age of 15 and 21, without any nationality conditions. 

UEFA says this will make clubs invest more in local talent and give any youngsters coming from Africa or Latin America better training and education.

Mike Collett writes in his analysis at our soccer website that Blatter’s plan is laudable but unworkable, while there’s another thoughtful piece over at Soccerlens

Elsewhere, Chris at Gooner Talk calls the idea ludicrous, Soccer Guru carries the headline “Sepp Blatter destroys Premiership” and there are far less polite comments around the Web.

What do you think? Is this merely a romantic idea that hasn’t a snowball’s chance in a world of soccer dominated by money? If it does go through, would it really benefit the game? Give us your thoughts in the comments.

PHOTO: FIFA President Sepp Blatter listens to a delegate on day two of the 58th FIFA congress in Sydney May 30, 2008. REUTERS/Will Burgess

12 comments

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Is the legal thing as clear cut as that? It wouldn’t necessarily prevent cubs from signing players — just playing them all at the same time. You could quite easily see a point in the not-too-distant future where the really big clubs play one team in the Champions League and another team in most matches in their domestic leagues. The “specificity” of sport has also been agreed on, hasn’t it?

Posted by Kev | Report as abusive

Blatter’s romanticism is alleged–at best.

This rule is an affront to capitalism, free trade and economics in general. Where does he get off telling, in some cases, publicly owned businesses which players they can run out there? The rule is a joke and hopefully the EU slaps it down.

http://startingeleven.blogspot.com/2008/ 05/fifa-approves-blatters-rule-or-when-6 50.html

Kev,
Good questions. On your query about the rule merely being about what team you play and not about “signing” for a club – this according to EU (after they carried out a study) is still illegal on the grounds of “indirect discrimination”.
On the question of specificity. Yes it is mentioned in the new EU treaty, but as Mike Collett points out in his analysis on Reuters, the meaning/parametres are still to be discussed. But the EU will say specificity is not exclusivity. They will merely have sympathy with sport in some areas of EU law. Unfortunately the free movement of players is not negotiable since it has already been ruled upon by the European Court of Justice – remember the Bosman case ?
On your point about one squad for Champions League and another domestically. I think in some cases we already have this and I think it is wrong. Just look at the cup competitions in England and the loss of romantacism. Also if we take this road, we are on our way to a European Super league. Do we really want this ??

Posted by darren ennis | Report as abusive

The fact that FIFA delegates backed Blatter overwhemingly says something.

All this talk about EU legislation is nonsense because FIFA represents football all over the world and not just in the EU.

If the EU won’t change its rules, then the rest of the world will have to do something to protect their interests.

EU law has already made many amendments to recognize the specificity of sports, and they can do it again.

If football clubs were to operate purely as businesses, such things as transfer fees would have to be abolished and clubs like Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool would be forced into bankruptcy.

It is unacceptable for 8-10 clubs in just four countries to monopolize clucb football and continue to threaten international football…

Posted by Vincent | Report as abusive

It seems this ruling is purely to help the English national team develop decent players. Italy, Spain, France, Holland and Germany have no trouble finding the right balance. It’s only the money hungry premiership who need to be reminded that they are killing their chances of a world cup or euro win. http://gentrystyle.com/category/sport/

As with many of Sepp Blatter’s plans, this is rubbish. The “6+5″ rule will not stop the richest clubs buying the best players, whether they are home-grown or not.

Besides a serious legal battle with the EU as regards the freedom of labour & movement, the only thing this will do is stop two or three leagues, currently the Premier League, Serie A & La Liga accumulating the majority of the best football players in the world.

Why does Sepp Blatter believe he has the backing of football fans?

The idea should have been drowned at birth. Illogical, illegal and the wrong solution to the problem. The only way to improve English players is through better youth training. Forcing clubs to play sub-par English players won’t make them any better!

Still, if Blatter wants to hang his hat on this, let him do it. With any luck the EU will slap this idea down so hard his position will become untenable and someone less loony gets the job.

Posted by Rolls Eyes | Report as abusive

I cant believe in this day and age that such a proposal is even being considered.
It is nothing bu racism, discriminating against footballers, based on where in the world they were born and there is no other job in world where a manager could not hire someone because they were born on the wrong side of a \”border\”.
There are a few dutch teams who have squads which are 50% or more composed of African players from thier scouting schools out there. What would beome of these? These players are being given the chance to escape poverty…

Only in the crazy world of Football could we have players like Carlo Cudicini, an Italian able to play for the English National Team, but unable to play for his English club team, because he was born in Italy.
A FARCE!

Posted by Mikkel K | Report as abusive

I hate it how FIFA wants to control everything!

Let it go and let each country and league decides this stuff for themselves.

Soccer Nation

Why aren’t national teams or womens only football teams governed by EU legislation?

Posted by harry hill | Report as abusive

its not soccer per se but the German bureaucratic mentality that has my knickers in a twist and I feel to get even.
If there is justice, please let the Germans send them home in disgrace.
….this from a US national; WWII German born and raised

Posted by K o G | Report as abusive

How does this actually help countries that have little or no competition in their own countries? By allowing the big league countries, like England, Italy, and Spain to hire players from other countries helps to create better players. How could countries like the US ever begin to produce quality talent? At the moment there are very few who even make a roster abroad, let alone a starting line up. Look at the African leagues. How many of these players would be at the top level that they are if their dreams were to play for an African club. If the top clubs in Italy, England, and Spain can’t put together a team full of their nationals then there’s a reason. Fans want to see the best players in the world compete, not the best players from their country.
Countries that will lose out on this deal are the ones with leagues outside of Spain, Italy, England, and Germany. The leagues would start to become less interesting. Nationalism and racism would begin to grow. How is this a benefit to the sport?
Can anyone argue that England is not one of the best teams in Europe at the moment? Yet the top teams in the league don’t follow a 6+5 rule. If this rule passes I hope the English Premier league(and others) protest it.
Can you imagine if every company in the world had to follow these rules? Would you support an interviewer saying, “I’m sorry you are qualified for the position but we can’t hire any more foreigners. Instead we have to hire a less talented individual.” Or perhaps people saying, “you know, Coca Cola is too strong. We need to level out the playing field so that all soft drinks have a fair share.” Even if the world prefers to drink Coke(sorry coke haters, I don’t like it either but still).

Posted by living abroad | Report as abusive