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Report: Regardless of Brexit, FA still pushing to cut down on foreign players

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The Premier League could look very different in the years ahead if the FA gets its way.

The Guardian reports that the FA is pushing ahead with its plan to cut the number of non-homegrown players in Premier League squads (effectively, players born or raised outside the United Kingdom) from 17 to 13, regardless of whether England leaves the European Union. As it stands, D-Day for the United Kingdom is March 29, 2019, when either there will be a deal to leave or there will be a “hard” exit, with the UK leaving the European body with no trade or customs deals in place.

[READ: What’s next for USMNT?]

In response, the Premier League released a lengthy statement, stating their opposition to the FA’s plan. The Premier League stated, “…Brexit should not be used to weaken playing squads in British football, nor to harm clubs’ ability to sign international players.”

The FA previously stated its intention to lower the amount of non-homegrown players to 12, per the Times of London, and now appears to be pushing through its mandate regardless of cooperation from Premier League clubs. The Guardian report states that Premier League club executives rejected the proposal from FA CEO Martin Glenn at a recent owners meeting.

It’s important to remember that the FA and the Premier League have different goals. The FA, which has a bumper crop of talented English youngsters from their World Cup winning Under-17 and Under-20 teams, wants to create more high-level opportunities for their players domestically. The Premier League meanwhile wants to make money, whether that’s using domestic or foreign players.

If the FA’s plan went through, it would force massive changes across the Premier League, especially at the Big 6 clubs who primarily rely on foreign-born players. Currently, five clubs including Manchester United and Tottenham have the maximum 17 registered foreign players, while a further four clubs have 16 registered non-homegrown players. A player is considered a homegrown player if they’ve been registered at a Premier League club for three years before their 21st birthday. This has enabled some players, such as Arsenal’s Hector Bellerin and former Arsenal (current Chelsea) midfielder Cesc Fabregas to be considered homegrown players even though they were born abroad.

In addition to massive changes in the Premier League, this plan could also have a negative reaction on the U.S. Men’s National Team. If it wasn’t already hard enough for American players to get work permits in England, it could become even more difficult, as the player will have to be good enough to be one of the 12 or 13 non-homegrown players.

FA to consider bidding for 2030 World Cup

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Could the World Cup be returning to England? We’ll have to wait and see.

FA chairman Greg Clarke confirmed that the organization would look into the feasibility of hosting the 2030 World Cup. It would be the first World Cup back in England since the Three Lions won it on home soil in 1966. It would also be following the co-hosted Canada-Mexico-United States World Cup in 2026, as well as be the second World Cup with – at least – 48 teams in the tournament.

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“This work will take place during the new season and no decision will be made until 2019,” Clarke said.

England previously suffered an embarrassment when the nation spent around $27.5 million on its bid for the 2018 World Cup, which of course went to Russia. However, England, being one of the few nations in the world with ready-made infrastructure and plenty of stadiums to host 80 matches, could have a leg up against other opponents, especially if England partners with the FA of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland (and perhaps even the Republic of Ireland FA. The Northern Ireland FA has already pledged its support.

Another factor working in England’s favor is that usually, though not always, every other World Cup takes place in Europe. Argentina, Uruguay, and perhaps Chile are all considering a joint-bid for the 2030 World Cup for the centenary of the tournament to return to where it began (in Uruguay), but if voters overlook that, England could have a good chance.

In less than two years, England will also get the chance to host a major tournament as seven games from Euro 2020, including the final, will take place in the British Isle.

If there is no funny business and England enters the race, it would automatically be considered one of the favorites to host the tournament. Perhaps this time around, rather than in 2010, England can cross the finish line in first place.

Premier League to introduce a winter break for 2019/2020 season

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Following years of discussion, the Premier League and FA have together agreed upon a series of changes that will allow for a two-week winter break in the future.

The FA and Premier League announced a two-week winter break in February, starting in the 2019-2020 season that will still see Premier League games played in that span, with five on the first weekend and five on the second, allowing teams to have their break after their matches.

[READ: USMNT vs. France: Preview]

It doesn’t match the length of winter breaks in Spain, Germany and Italy but it also doesn’t interfere with England’s traditional busy holiday program, which sees teams play on Boxing Day and around New Years in addition to regular weekend fixtures.

As part of the agreement, the FA has agreed to move the fifth round of the FA Cup to midweek while scrapping replays from the fifth round on. Replays will still be around for the earlier rounds, where some of the smaller clubs could earn a return fixture against a giant, earning a massive cash windfall from television and gate receipts.

“This is a significant moment for English football and one that we believe will greatly benefit both club and country,” Martin Glenn, FA chief executive, said in a statement. “It’s no secret that we have a very congested fixture calendar and over recent years we have been working with the whole game to find a solution.

“Today’s announcement proves that football can come together for the good of the game. We have also found a way to give the players a much-needed mid-season break, whilst keeping the much-loved Christmas schedule in place.

“As we head into summer international tournaments in the future we are sure that this mid-season break will prove to be a valuable addition for our players.”

The Premier League has been in serious discussions over the past few years on how to introduce a winter break, as both foreign managers in the Premier League and fans have complained about the league’s lack of quality come late in the season, when players are gassed from playing 50 or more games, including cups and friendly matches.

There’s hope now that this two-week break will help some players heal, get off their feet for a few days, and maybe begin to recover enough so that they still have gas left in the tank for a summer tournament.

With this starting for the 2019-2020 season, we could see if it has an effect on the 2020 European Championship. Ironically, the next World Cup after this year won’t be a summer World Cup, so European-based players should actually be fit and ready to go for a tournament beginning in November.

Rodriguez racial abuse charge found “not proven”

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West Brom striker Jay Rodriguez will not face punishment for an alleged racist incident against Brighton and Hove Albion.

The Gulls’ Gaetan Bong claimed that Rodriguez racially abused him during a Jan. 13 match, and Rodriguez was charged by the Football Association.

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Fired manager Alan Pardew reportedly spoke up for Rodriguez at the hearing, after which the charge was found to be “not proven.”

The club released a statement following the verdict, with West Brom director of football administration Richard Garlick saying:

“Everyone at the Club is delighted for Jay because this has been a trying period for him. He has always maintained his innocence and we are naturally pleased the Commission has dismissed the charge.”

USMNT falls back to No. 25 in latest FIFA Rankings

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The U.S. Men’s National Team rounds out the top 25 teams ranked by FIFA in the world soccer governing body’s latest rankings.

FIFA released its March rankings Thursday morning, with Northern Ireland jumping over the USMNT to put the U.S. back at No. 25. It’s the lowest spot for the U.S. since 2016 when it fell to No. 28. England remained at No. 16 in the rankings.

The top five of the rankings remained unchanged with Germany leading followed by Brazil, Portugal, Argentina and Belgium. Poland jumped up to No. 6 in a tie with Spain, and then Switzerland, France and Chile round out the top 10.

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Six teams in the top 25 missed out on the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The USMNT, Northern Ireland, the Netherlands, Wales, Italy and Chile.