Fifa – the organisation of which a US judge famously said that they “lied and lied again in court” claims that it has now worked out a way of restricting the number of foreign players in each team, while staying within the rules of the European Union. It wants to talk to the European Commission to discuss plans to bring its new idea to fruition.
The plan is to stop clubs fielding more than five non-nationals in a starting team. Non-nationals means players such as Ramsey. He’s a non-national despite being a UK citizen, and Cesc is a non-national because he holds an EU passport not issued in the UK.
The notorious six plus five rule was approved by most of FIFA’s members last year, but on the face it of clearly represents discrimination in the workplace. If it became law it would mean that I, as an employer, could say that I want a certain number of jobs in my business to go to English people, and then later to Scots, and only after that to French people.
The FIFA approach is getting around this rule by calling it “a rule of the game” – meaning that just as FIFA can declare how the offside rule works, so it can declare who can play the game.
Clearly some people at the Ems support this approach, and have been waving St George flags to show it. But it would cause difficulties for Arsenal if introduced on a purely national basis, without allowance for the length of time that the player has been in England.
Arsenal are also in danger of being hammered by UEFA. UEFA are trying to stop movement of players under 18 from one country to another (and that would again affect Ramsey, since Wales is another country in UEFA terms) while FIFA want six English players in the starting team. Both would undermine the notion of sustainability established by Arsenal, and would ensure that more and more clubs move into more and more debt as they attempt to buy success by buying over 18 year old English players for ever higher fees.
The story however is rather old. In 1910 Scotland refused to pick players who were Scottish by birth but were playing for Woolwich Arsenal – having walked to London in order to find work in the armaments factories. 99 years on the fight against Arsenal by any means possible continues.
(c) Tony Attwood 2009
PS: Don’t forget Highbury High this saturday – new edition out from the usual guys in the road and on the steps.
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