FIFA President Sepp Blatter loves to open up a can of worms, doesn’t he?
On Friday Blatter has suggested that a previous plan to limit the number of foreign players in a clubs starting lineup should be revived to help national teams thrive.
The famous “6-plus-5” rule caused plenty of controversy a few years back, as the idea was shelved in 2010 as it was deemed as unworkable under European labor law. The 28-nation European Union proctets the free movement of workers, and that is why this ruling fell flat on its face in the past.
What the rule means is that at least six players in the starting lineup must be eligible to play for the home nation of the club in question. So, if these rules were to come in place then Chelsea would have to field at least six Englishman in their starting lineup, when at the moment the best they can offer is around four. Even that’s a push.
This topic has come back into the news after Blatter wrote the following in FIFA’s weekly magazine: “we have not heard the last word on this subject.” Blatter believes this is a good idea because it creates a close link between the clubs and their national team and helps to keep the identity of both intact.
Blatter and UEFA President Michel Platini have butted heads on this topic many times in the past and it will only act to further fueld the flames before the next FIFA presidential election in May 2015.
Would it be a good idea for European clubs to adopt this rule?
I think so. In reality it has a long, long way to go to be implemented with many clubs reluctant to change their entire setup, but if done correctly then the vast academy and youth systems prevalent all across the top European leagues will again become relevant instead of an afterthought. Right now money is pumped into these schools of excellence without any real direction, other than hoping one or two players will make the grade every five years or so. If you had to rely heavily on players who are eligible to play for the country where your club is based, then you’d soon see clubs change their tune and look at their academies in an entirely different way.
Fans would be able to connect with their sides better and the national teams would benefit from a larger pool of players. Yet restricting how many players from each country can play for a single team becomes rather tricky, as the legal issues with the EU don’t seem to be disappearing anytime soon.
As Blatter said, we haven’t heard the last on this topic.