Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Apparently FIFA wants mediocre football

FIFA president Sepp Blatter proposed a "6+5" rule for all FIFA competitions. This rule would require all clubs teams to field a team that has at least 6 players eligible for national club status.

The stated purpose of the rule is to "bring balance to the game through encouraging the development of young football talent." And to cut down on the dominance of the English Premier League, and especially the "top four".

The resolution was overwhelming favored by FIFA's members, passing 155-5, during the meeting last week.

This is simply stupid. There is no question that parity is an issue in league football in Europe and around the world, but having domestic players is not the answer.

The problem is money. The English Premier League makes and spends more money on players than anyone else. Want parity? Institute a salary cap. Manchester United won the Premier League and the Champions League with 4 English players in their starting 11. Chelsea came runner up in both with 3 English players in their starting 11. Arsenal, who starts no English players, finished 3rd in the Premier League and didn't make it to the quarterfinals of the Champions League.

All this arbitrary restriction will do is to dilute the game. Watching Manchester United play Chelsea in the Champions League final this year was the best of the best footballers going up against each other. It is even better than World Cup football.

The fact that Blatter wants passport rather than merit to decide who plays football will only weaken the game. Fans want to watch the best players play. Sport is one of the few fields of endeavor where skin color matters little and ability to win matters much. And that's the way it should be.

As an American soccer fan, I want to see the best team put on the field. I don't care if the players are from Los Angeles, Iowa or Mexico City. AND I want American players to be able to travel to better leagues to get better experience so when the World Cup comes around, America can compete and not be embarrassed (like the Austrians).

Does anyone see any validity in this ban? I just don't understand why 155 members would support it. A better football fan than I care to enlighten me?