FA Foreign Policy 

By | February 11, 2015

Over the last decade we have witnessed the English Premier League turn into one of the major hubs for international football stars. It has increased the inter-club competition, evening up the playing field, causing the league to become arguably the best league in the World. However, in early September, Greg Dyke, the FA chairman, released plans to tighten legislations on foreign players entering the Premier League. The intention would be to re-discover the British heritage and develop a strong core within clubs. Such a regulation would also help to improve the National team and maybe relive the 1966 World Cup triumphs. However, are such policies already beginning to hinder the EPL and starting to strengthen other European confederations?

In lieu of the the January transfer window, Arsene Wenger spoke out about his struggles in signing Gabriel Paulista.  The £11.3 million deal was put on the brink of falling through when a work permit battle surfaced. This isn’t the first time Arsene Wenger has run into problems with immigration authorities, for his stars. In late July Alexis Sanchez missed Arsenals’ preseason training camp, in Austria, due to Visa problems. Joel Campbell has had constant struggles with obtaining a work permit and despite Arsenal owning him, he has had to be repeatedly loaned out to other European clubs. This is merely the surface of the issue. Many clubs cherish and pride themselves on their complex international scout networks and youth teams but run into even greater difficulties with acquiring the raw talent.

For a player to establish an initial application they must have played for his country in at least 75% of its competitive A team matches of which he was available for selection, during the two years preceding the date of the application. Secondly, the player’s country must be at or above 70th place in the official FIFA world rankings. This immediately makes it possible for only elite players to make the cut and puts youngsters at near impossible odds. Surely it would be more beneficial for youth players to playing alongside the very best as then their game will improve quicker. Professionalism will arise faster, their traits will infest each other, the do’s and don’ts will be learnt and they will feed of one-another’s energy. Players dream of playing under elite managers and legends as they know it’ll elevate them to that next level. So surely there are better methods of improving the core then by erasing the competition?

Other policies could be set up that provide clubs with benefits or incentives to produce “home grown players”. For example, in 2010 the “Home Grown” player quota was implemented allowing a minimum of 8 home grown players in any 25 man squad. This policy has had only scratched the surface and hasn’t really made an impact as teams can easily bypass this ruling. It’s evident that the emphasis should be put into the lower ages such as elementary and middle school kids. After school programmes could be set up by the FA to facilitate these activities or weekend away courses implemented. The underlying issue isn’t the league but its root causes are the foundations or as José Mourinho prescribed; “In England you teach your kids how to win. In Portugal and Spain they teach their kids how to play”.

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