Date: 31st May 2008 at 10:00am
Written by:

Yesterdays vote by FIFA on the proposal to restrict the number of none national players to five in a team`s starting line up by 2012 has already sparked a massive debate with a European spokesman stating that the proposal as they believe it is illegal under European Law based on discrimination on the basis of nationality.

A quick look on the European Commission website throws up the following statement;

“Regardless of your place of residence, as a European Union worker you are entitled to take up an activity as an employed person in any Member State under the same conditions as nationals .

Equal treatment applies to all conditions governing employment and work (e.g. remuneration, dismissal, occupational reintegration or re-employment after being unemployed).

The principle of equal treatment in access to employment implies that you have the same priority as nationals for access to employment in any Member State.

This means that national provisions limiting the number or percentage of foreigners who may be employed do not apply to you.

Consequently, when in a Member State the granting of any benefit to enterprises is subject to a minimum percentage of national workers, you are regarded as a national worker.

In addition, EC law states that any clause of a collective or individual agreement or of any other collective regulation concerning eligibility for employment, employment, remuneration and other conditions of work or dismissal shall be null and void in so far as it lays down or authorises discriminatory conditions in respect of workers who are nationals of other Member States.”

The above paragraphs clearly indicate that the proposal would be illegal under the law and as a result the law would have to be changed which would affect all employees from other member nations not just footballers something which is clearly against the founding principles of the E.U. not just UEFA.

Mr Blatter is quoted in today`s Independent as saying he has a meeting with a speaker of the European parliament in June to discuss the way forward.

The aim of the proposal is to encourage clubs to develop more English players and strengthen the national side and has the support of almost all the FIFA delegates.

So if implemented how would this affect football teams?

An article in today`s Independent shows that based on the last day of the season`s starting line ups only four clubs, Villa, West Ham, Bolton and Newcastle would have met the criteria.

Arsenal had one English starter and Liverpool just two. Wigan had five.

To meet the quota clubs would not be able to play their best team but one with more English players in it. Wigan`s solution would be to bring Taylor into the starting line up instead of Boyce or Figueroa.

The argument is that by having more nationals in the teams it would improve the national team but how?

The ultimate in club football is the Champion`s league final which featured ten players eligible for England six from Manchester United and four from Chelsea who arguably would form the backbone of the national team(Scholes being the exception as he has retired from national football).

Given the fact that we didn`t qualify for Euro 2008 with the majority of these ten players in the squads` casts doubts on Mr Blatter`s proposals.

In the 1970’s we failed to qualify for the World Cup finals when the majority of players in the top tier of English football were eligible to play for England

I believe that there would be several potential detrimental outcomes if this proposal is implemented

The first is a potential haemorrhage of English born players to the big four clubs to make up the numbers.

For example Chris Kirkland would probably sit on the United bench for most of the season only replacing Van Der Sar when United needed another English player due to an injury to Rooney, Ferdinand etc.

How does this inactivity for an England international improve the national game?

I also believe that this ruling would hit the smaller nations.

There are many English born players who play for the other home nations, Eire and the Caribbean nations who would have to opt for English nationality in order to get a game for their club side.

A look at the Wigan squad reveals Emerson Boyce born in Aylesbury plays for Bermuda, Kevin Kilbane born Preston and plays for Eire and Marlon King born Dulwich plays for Jamaica.

Multiply those three by another nineteen premier league clubs and you can see a massive loss of players to smaller nations.

Premier League clubs would also be reluctant to take players from lower leagues or smaller nations such as Honduras for the same reason.

The influence last season of Wilson Palacios cannot be underestimated, imagine if we had not been able to play him because we had to play an eligible Englishman instead.

If Mr Blatter gets his way this will have much farther reaching implications than the Bosman ruling. One thing for certain is that if adopted the game in England would be changed radically.

by baskerville

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