February 21st, 2011
03:32 PM ET

Have football clubs lost all national identity?

Shakhtar's Brazilian forward Luiz Adriano, right, is challenged by Arsenal's Switzerland defender Johan Djourou.
Shakhtar's Brazilian forward Luiz Adriano, right, is challenged by Arsenal's Switzerland defender Johan Djourou.

Last week's Champions League victories by Arsenal and Shakhtar Donetsk over Barcelona and Roma had football pundits around the world praising the exploits of the English and Ukrainian clubs.

However, as impressive as those wins were, it's debatable how much credit those two nations deserve for their clubs' successes.

Arsenal fielded only two English players at the Emirates Stadium, while Shakhtar started with just three Ukrainians. In fact, 10 of the 11 goals netted by Donetsk in Europe's top club competition belong to Brazilians.

This argument has been made before, and I would like to make it again. Clubs have lost all national identity and European ruling body UEFA needs to do something about a situation that is hurting the development of young players and affecting the performance of several national teams.

Let’s start with the Premier League. On any given weekend, the percentage of English players representing English teams is low. How low? After crunching the numbers, I found that rarely does this number climb over 35%. This means that on any given weekend, only four out of 11 players lining up for Premier League teams were born in England.

The data is even more dramatic when looking at the top-four clubs. For example, in the last round of fixtures, Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City had a total of only 13 English players in the line-ups. Of the top-15 goalscorers in the league, only two are English.

These numbers don’t lie, and they offer some insight into why the national team has struggled to perform at the top level.

Fans should be worried, just as England coach Fabio Capello has been ever since taking over the side in 2008. With the exception of Jack Wilshere and Adam Johnson, what other young talented players are there in England? Not too many.

While this scenario is quite worrying for English football, it’s not much better in Italy, at least as far as the top teams are concerned.

Last season, Inter Milan won the Champions League in Madrid with 11 foreigners in their starting line-up. Serie A’s top sides are littered with international players, and the national team has also paid the price recently.

The Azzurri were disappointing at Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup, and their outlook for the future isn’t too bright looking at the pool of young talent available. In this season’s Champions League, Italian teams have scored 30 goals. Guess how many were by Italian players? Eight. That’s 27%. Doesn’t make for great reading for Italian fans, does it?

But it's different story in Spain, which goes a long way into explaining why the national team has been so successful recently.

Spain’s Champions League sides are comprised mostly of homegrown players, and as far as goals in that competition are concerned, half of them have been netted by Spanish players. Furthermore, if we eliminate Real Madrid from the equation, then we would find that 69% of the goals by Barcelona and Valencia belonged to Spanish players.

So what can be done to ensure that more countries follow Spain’s example? Or Germany’s example, for that matter? Well, that question would have to be put to UEFA.

If you ask me, it should introduce new rules in its competitions. Clubs should be forced to field six homegrown players in every game.

While UEFA cannot enforce these regulations in independent leagues across the continent because of European law, surely it could do so in competitions it governs. Therefore, in the Champions League and Europa League, teams would have to comply with this policy. That would surely give them more motivation to do the same in their respective leagues.

This way, maybe in the future, when Arsenal and Shakhtar record impressive wins, then their home nations would actually deserve some credit.

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Filed under:  Football
soundoff (55 Responses)
  1. Mike

    The problem in England is that there are a lot of people in the FA rather pay themselves 6-7 figure salaries rather than train their youth. If England do not train the youth then there will be no English football players good enough to play in Europe.

    February 21, 2011 at 4:10 pm | Reply
  2. Dax

    It is not the individual clubs or leagues responsibility to develop talent for their nation. These teams and leagues are private businesses and are in business for only one reason and it's not to develop talent for the national team.
    In England because of the Sky money and world TV rights there is a lot of money to attract the best players. In other leagues, because of individual situations there are also teams with money enough to attract the better players.
    Creating an artificial barrier to redistribute the talent as you suggest would not develop local talent. It would raise the price of the worlds very best players and the gap between the rich teams and everyone else would be even greater.
    Generally, top footballers come from lesser economic backgrounds ie: a Brazilian getto, and dedicate themselves to rising out of poverty through their athletic abilities (much the same as basketball players in America). One "problem" in England is our relative high standard of living and social structure.

    February 21, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Reply
  3. Lawrence

    "Clubs should be forced to field six homegrown players in every game."

    Because of the EUs labor laws, homegrown doesn't have to mean born in that country. UEFA and the Premier League have homegrown rules, but so that they don't contravene EU regulations, homegrown means must have plied their trade in that country for at least three years in between the ages of 16 and 21. The photo used in this post has this caption: "Shakhtar's Brazilian forward Luiz Adriano, right, is challenged by Arsenal's Switzerland defender Johan Djourou."

    Johan Djourou moved to Arsenal when he was 15 and is homegrown. He's been playing football at Arsenal longer (9 years) than anywhere else in his entire life. Cesc Fabregas is also considered homegrown. In his life here is the duration he's spent at each club: Mataró: 4 years; Barcelona: 6 years; Arsenal: 8 years.

    And by UEFA's definition of homegrown, Arsenal would have met your min of 6 because 7 homegrown players were in the starting lineup for the Barcelona game: Szczesny, Clichy, Djourou, Song, Wilshere, Fabregas and Walcott.

    February 21, 2011 at 4:18 pm | Reply
  4. alehandro

    Why does football have to be about nationalities? It isn't war where you're defending your nation's turf. It's a game, it's a business, but it's not combat. The notion of national pride when it comes to club football is anachronistic. The game has moved on from the days when local boys played for local clubs in the same way that the "Little Englander" island mentality disappeared into the European Union. How many fans care what passport the scorer is carrying when he scores a goal for their club? Very few I'd wager. As for the effect that the current open door policy has on national teams, well so what? The advent of International club competitions like the Champions League has reduced the importance of national team football. So what if your country doesn't win the World Cup or European Championship? Big deal! It would be nice, but I'd sooner my club side had a good shot at winning the Champions League every year than pin my hopes on the success of a group of men who's only real connection is the geographical location of their birth. And anyway, a domestic quota system is no guarantee of being competitive on the world stage. La Liga has been largely homogenous for years, but only in 2008 did Spain actually win anything, which suggests they're benefitting more from a vintage crop of players at Barca and Madrid than from a general legacy of patriotism. So no more rules about foreign imports please, there are many more pressing issues in football than this one

    February 21, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Reply
  5. David Green

    As you mention Arsenal let's take the English game as an example. Prior to the premiership's creation in 1992 most players in the top division were English. This did not help England win any of the World Cups or European Championships that they played in since they won in '66. One of the most successful teams in International football is Brazil, if you look at their winning teams and count the number of Brazillian based players do you think you'd run out of fingers on one hand, for the wntire squad?

    The reason England are terrible is outdated coaching methods, which are now improving and the next generation of English players, eg Jack Wilshere to keep the Arsenal theme, are much better technically and once the so called golden generation have retired you will see an England nation side more in keeping with international standards.

    February 21, 2011 at 4:36 pm | Reply
  6. Danish gooner

    National identity does not matter
    Club identity does – it brings down national and ethnic barriers – it is all that matters to true fans

    But the football system in a country does reflect some sort og national identity. The way the game is played. The way supporters support. The way stadiums are built. The way television rights are distributed.

    All these things contribute to the fact that the Premier League is the best in the world and still a british league. That it attracts foreign players is a testament to this rather than a sign of the national idendity going down the drain

    February 21, 2011 at 4:40 pm | Reply
  7. Charlie

    Perhaps in lieu of "home grown", the rule should state "eligibility for the national team of the league that they are playing in". i.e., Arsenal, Utd., City, etc.. would have to field x number of players that are eligible to play for England.

    Oh, and, yes, the National Team Managers and Coaches should be representative of the Country as well.....so, no foreigners for national team. One would think that if a country is being represented, then it should be top-down.

    February 21, 2011 at 5:48 pm | Reply
  8. Mick

    England didn't qualify the 94 World Cup and have only had two decent World Cups, 66 and 90. France won the 98 World Cup with Africans. At some point the foreigners will cancel things out.

    February 21, 2011 at 5:52 pm | Reply
  9. Tariku Hussein

    Why should "national identity" be imposed by force, when people of all races and ethnic groups are coming together around new types of football club identity?

    Indeed, when clubs select players for their quality and not their nationality, everyone in the world has an equal chance of succeeding, and what's wrong with that?

    February 21, 2011 at 6:03 pm | Reply
  10. CalgaryMUFC


    England does not under-achieve in international tournaments. This is a myth. For a nation of their size they do amazingly well, and could do much better if the grassroots coaching wasn't so archaic. Read the tremendous book 'Soccernomics' for more on this.

    EU law is EU law. It won't be changed to accommodate football. Gifting players spots in the EPL [or any other league] because of their passport and not their talent level will do nothing to encourage the growth of those players either. It's this thinking that sees a player the calibre of Andy Carroll being sold for 35 million pounds. Ridiculous!

    The best players will always want to play in the league with the most money – which for the moment is the EPL. The supporters of the big EPL clubs will not accept their teams being mediocre in order to incorporate a Championship-level player either. And as pointed out, since when is it the responsibility of the clubs to develop talent for national teams?

    Tough sell to supporters of any club to replace a talented player with some plugger from the lower leagues just because he's English. I want my team to win trophies and play breathtaking football, not develop players for the England set-up.

    February 21, 2011 at 6:28 pm | Reply
  11. F. Carballos

    Mr. Pedro Pinto obviously wants the foreign born players to stay home and toil away in obscurity so the master European Footballers can take all the glory....straight garbage Mr. Pinto.

    February 21, 2011 at 6:29 pm | Reply
  12. Peter Dondriac

    I agree with most people; it is a business, and there OUGHT NOT to be any nationality or ethnicity barriers. After all, that is what we supposedly aim for in any other profession. In that sense, football has succeeded where all others have failed, at eliminating racism. HOWEVER, I think they have lost heir identities for another reason. When we look at them on the pitch, what we see is the sponsor's name, not the team name. For all appearances, it looks like Sam-sung is playing against T-mobile. We might as well be honest and change the team;s names!

    February 21, 2011 at 7:04 pm | Reply
  13. Stargoat

    The Champions League is supposed to be about Sport. The best teams in the world are to be playing each other. This should be the best football anyone will ever see. And the supporters of the footballs will support their teams no matter what shade of skin or accent the players might have. That is what is so amazing about Sport.

    The World Cup is supposed to be about Nationalistic Pride or whatever you want to call it.

    February 21, 2011 at 7:38 pm | Reply

    The European football has become a big money business and they need to make the league acceptable top people worldwide warrant the inclusion of foreign players. Platini has tried to regulate it but people did not listen to him. The case rest in the hands of FIFA official to do something

    February 21, 2011 at 7:39 pm | Reply
  15. Sebastian

    "Have football clubs lost all national identity?"

    In Germany they haven't... the Bundesliga keeps churning out german (and turkish) talents. Although I believe this has little to do with worries about national identity but the mere fact that young players are cheap and great once you have the structures set up and running.
    Unfortunately for the Brits their clubs are either too rich or too poor to develop youth making their national team a joke and the Premier League an everlasting and boring competition for which club is the "best" in being strange and bankrupt.

    February 21, 2011 at 7:49 pm | Reply
  16. Chris

    Woah!! Another bad soccer piece from CNN?? Get out of town!

    February 21, 2011 at 7:56 pm | Reply
  17. Oscar Lopez

    Anyone good enough to play for England is also good enough to play in the Premier League, where foreigners help increase quality and standards, so the argument that national teams suffer is nonsense. We can cultivate our "national identity" in World Cups and so on. Club football is for club identity, which crosses continents and national borders, uniting people from all over the world. Why not celebrate that instead of trying to ban and oppress it?

    February 21, 2011 at 8:18 pm | Reply
  18. Bob T Builder

    this is a typical comment from someone that does not understand football, particulary English football. Arsenal are fortunate to have some of the best youngsters playing for them from all over the world (including English). The game now is global and multi cultreal. I do not care where the player was born only that he is good enough to play. I live in London and funny enough there is more nationalities than just English living here. Arsenal are more inportant to me than the England team (and I am English) England have always been rubbish even at the 66 cup final. Not many foreign played for top clubs from 66 throgh to the nineties so the fact our players were not up to scratch is the F.A.s fault. Over pricing for average players that are English also contributes to not selecting them. Arsenal ARE an ENGLISH TEAM IN ENGLAND THANKFULLY WE DONT CARE ABOUT RACE RELIGON. Football supporters and not just Arsenal supporters care about their teams with real passion so dont stick your uneducated nose in, the criteria that Arsenal meets is that they play good footbal that can be watched in a safe inviroment, so please please look at the bigger picture, it would not be English teams that would benifit by changing the rules, but european teams that do not get pass the qualifying rounds. It would make it easier for mediocre sides to be in the champions league. If that were to happen I could see the European Super League rearing its ugly head again and the top clubs opting out. If it aint broke dont fix it.

    February 21, 2011 at 8:28 pm | Reply
  19. Marsy

    So glad you mentioned Germany somewhere. The Bundesliga plays in the shadow of the big three and are mostly kind of ignored. Until a big Championship is coming up and Germany does very well with players 'nobody' knows.
    They have a lot of young talent too and a very good youth system.
    Bayern last year played the CL-final last year with 5 Germans in the starting XL, all from the club's youth system. It is possible.

    February 21, 2011 at 8:32 pm | Reply
  20. Bob T Builder

    please stop talking about National Identity. It insults my intelligence. When you support a club for 40 or 50 YEARS do you reallyy think that supporters would take Country before club ie ask any supporter what they would prefer giving the chance, to win the champions league, premeirship promotion, not to get relegated or England to win the world cup. Not many would say I would rather see my team miss out. England is always well supported win or lose so why raise the issue now. If you want english players playing at academies paid for by clubs, then the F.a. should contribute to the costs I THOUGHT THE PREMIER LEAGUE WAS NOT THE FA AND HAS ITS OWN MANAGEMENT

    February 21, 2011 at 8:47 pm | Reply
  21. Tendai

    Fabio Capello doesn't want to blood youngsters in his precious friendlies or qualifiers because his job and legacy are on the line. For crying out loud he's using Jack Wilshere as a holding midfielder, and when Gerrard et all come back, Wilshere will be on the bench. Look, its a fallacy that there are no youth good enough for england, Mceachran, Wilshere, Gibbs, Henderson, Rodwell, Cahill *ok he's 25*, but seriously if Scott parker can't find a place in the squad what chance do these youngsters?
    the reason England never does well is time and time again the same players go to tournaments, the superstars if you will, not players in form. I mean Rio Ferdinand hardly played a game for United yet still went to the world cup and guess what? promptly got injured, We have John Terry far more interested in asserting his bruised ego by trying to lead some sort of faux revolution against Capello because they were bored in their compound and couldn't see their families. You have a media ready to sabotage the team for a story, the same hacks that were demanding change were slaughtering Henderson when he made his début. No England are their own worst enemies, when it stops becoming about money, selling shirts and image rights then the youth will be given their chance to shine.

    February 21, 2011 at 9:14 pm | Reply
  22. Israel

    The english are not that good if anyone actually looks back on their past. Only one world cup win is nothing. Italy has better outlook then England as they have many young players in foreign leagues.

    February 21, 2011 at 9:18 pm | Reply
  23. azri

    when it is money ( to buy the clubs) you want foreign born billioners, when you want players you don`t want forieners.How it could be? Mr. Pedro Pinto, I don`t think your article reflects what the future football should be! please get out from nationalistic attitude about clubs . football clubs are becoming more global!

    February 21, 2011 at 9:38 pm | Reply
  24. Michael McKenzie

    I belive there should be a rule in the Premier League saying that a minimum of 15 players out of the registered 25 should be UK or Irish born and out of the remaining 10, at least 5 of them should be EU citizens.

    If something like this dosen't happen I can only see the home nations talent crisis get even worse. Something else to consider should be a certain number of players in a starting 11 in the Premier League say 5 should be English and academies should only be able to sign players born or already living in the UK.

    This could solve the home grown crisis in the Premier League and possible close the gap between the Premier League and the Championship and with more home grown players the better the England Team.

    February 21, 2011 at 10:11 pm | Reply
  25. Ian

    Terrible idea. You want the best players available to your club team to play week in and week out. It has been said before but I think you would be hard pressed to find a supporter of a club who would prefer that a player of inferior quality start a match instead of a foreign player with real class.

    It is not the club's responsibility to cultivate talent for the national side. These clubs are responsible for winning matches and if foreign players give them the best shot at doing so then that is who should play. The ridiculous over-valuation of English players does more to inhibit their inclusion to the top sides than anything else. When the FA does find a natural talent like Jack Wilshere they need to nurture his development, not throw him into a triangle tug of war between his club side, the U21s and the senior squad.

    National tournaments come around ever 2 years or so and when they do they are a joy to watch but the majority of fans live and die with their club every week, every year. The percentage of foreign players hasn't seemed to hurt attendance at the Emirates, Stamford Bridge or Old Trafford.

    February 21, 2011 at 10:22 pm | Reply
  26. equality

    Most fans do not care about where a player is from just that their club is getting the best players they can gather up. If you don't like seeing people come together and set race a side to enjoy the game maybe you should follow different sport. Good players are good players, your "home grown" ones are just not good enough anymore.

    February 21, 2011 at 10:40 pm | Reply
  27. park

    this is stupid artikkel. most of the players brought when they are young and the foreinger players are what making football very interesting. this is football and its the greatest sport on this planet

    February 21, 2011 at 10:41 pm | Reply
  28. Steve Britten

    I absolutely agree! It's a sad reflection on the game and it sends a negative message to young local players trying to get a break with their home team. Yes, a minimim of 6 homegrown players per team is a good start. But sadly, money talks – and that's why we have teams like Man City trying to buy their way to victory.

    February 21, 2011 at 10:41 pm | Reply
  29. Romano

    Here in Mexico we have a rule to field a fixed number of Mexican Players in football, only 5 foreigners are allowed to be hired by each professional club.
    I don't know why Europeans and Americans are so scared to do this.
    Probably because you don't have a real identity.
    Here in Mexico, Chivas only hires Mexican players and the whole country is very proud of that

    February 21, 2011 at 10:53 pm | Reply
  30. ARG

    Mr. Pinto why don't you ask your good friend Cristiano how he would have felt had he never got the chance to play for an English club because of his nationality.

    February 21, 2011 at 11:04 pm | Reply
  31. M. Horn

    This is absurd stuff. What better motivation for youngsters to start playing football in any country than to see their home club team win the Champions League? And what worse de-motivation than seeing your home league clubs get thrashed whenever they play a team in another league.

    And even when you draw national lines for international events (World Cup) you will notice that national teams are comprised of various nationalities – which I think is great. Football is global and the human race is coming together – exciting times indeed!

    February 21, 2011 at 11:25 pm | Reply
  32. augusto

    I agree with you in some points. However, those clubs that you said: Arsenal and Shaktar Donetsk, they didn't choose their players, according to their born countries.
    Come on, don't think like that. Soccer is an union of countries.
    You are only thinking in one side of the coin: National Teams. The other side of the coin is the most important one that is integrating nations. And this is what soccer does.
    Different from basketball, baseball where america dominates, soccer is a sport of all the countries in the world. And this is why it's the nicest sport ever.

    February 21, 2011 at 11:35 pm | Reply
  33. Carl

    FIFA has done a lot to combat racism in football in the past 10 years. Unfortunately, they have not done enough in the USA. MLS has a cap on the amount of foreign designated players that they can field. Just like the laws in Arizona, these rules unfairly discriminate against minorities. The New York Yankees and Mets have a number of players born outside the US. All of the MLS teams have their own academies which foster growth of local talent. So why do we have to put a cap on the amount of foreign players playing in the US. How many Canadian hockey players are playing for NHL teams in the US? Why arent we putting a cap on them? this is absurd. The MLS needs to revisit this issue. The MLS will never be a competitive league until it stops seeing big name signings only in terms of race....that is one of the reasons why Ronaldinho did not sign with the LA GALAXY this year....and I think more people will begin speaking up on this issue..

    February 21, 2011 at 11:54 pm | Reply
  34. Brian

    Wow, Pedro, this is the second article in a row that I read from you that shows a lack of sense and football knowledge that I imagined you with all your experience in sportscasting would have. First you say that one goal makes you immortal (uh, no.) and now you say that all club teams should have a minimum number of homegrown players? Please...

    You have to understand that the Club teams and the National teams are two interconnected but mutually exclusive arenas. When you talk about a player as an individual, you mention his achievements for his club and for his country. When you talk about a club team, it's independent from whatever that nation's national team does. Many times there is an overlap in players (e.g. almost all the Spain players for the 2010 WC were from Real and Barca), but you just dont put those two in the same sphere.

    Club teams are independent teams that can buy or sell any player they want (and have money for), they have their own particular style of play and a loyal fan base that is solely dedicated to, for example, AC Milan – NOT for the fact that AC Milan is an italian league team but rather that it is AC MILAN. The same goes for any other league in the world.

    National teams are comprised of the best players of each country, regardless of their clubs teams. It's a place where nationality can be celebrated in competition by the greatest game on the planet. With club teams you show your loyalty to an independent club, and with national teams you show your loyalty to your country. They are separate things, and if you try to force clubs to have certain homegrown player quotas, you're just trying to make the club teams like a national team – which is just idiotic because they are independent of each other.

    So no, it would be an awful idea to do that. Would there be benefits? Some, yes. But the drawbacks would be far greater.

    @CalgaryMUFC – Are you kidding me? England hasn't done jack in the international arena. The only time they won the WC was in 66 and that's because they hosted it. The real problem with English football is not only that their strategy is archaic but that their focus is way too much on the minutia of technical perfection and they completely neglect the subjective aspects of the game that South American teams have become so good at. To really be good there needs to be a balance of both, but the English mentality is so set on the notion that set plays and endless drills will lead to glory that they forget that the number one thing in football is the feel for the ball. Without that, my friend, you're not going anywhere. And that's why English football is so despicable – money can buy the best players for your club teams, but it wont get you far when it comes to the nationals.

    February 22, 2011 at 12:04 am | Reply
  35. Dutchie

    Soccer at club level is about tradition; soccer at national level is war. But the present situation has reduced the beautiful game to a means of business. Players don't care about their club's badge, they only care about their ridiculously large paychecks; they're mercenaries. And if you ask me, this mentality has crossed over to national soccer as well.

    Ideally, each club should be allowed to field only three foreign players. Remember how exciting it was when that was the case?

    Excuse me for my rambling.

    February 22, 2011 at 1:14 am | Reply
  36. teeqqi

    I don't know what to say Pedro. As longs it's good football i don't care to be honest, from what part of the world the player come from. we are all human being that's what matters. There shouldn't be countries in the this world in the first place, all this divisions is just about rich and poor. For instance Americans don't need visa to visit Europe, but if African want to come to Europe they need visas. Why do you think that is? Because of money. So if big team in Europe want their starting 11 to be Brazilians, who cares, as long as they deliver on the pitch and the teams earn their investment.

    February 22, 2011 at 1:35 am | Reply
  37. Luana Melo

    Well, the football, currently is business, today the teams not want
    just a good player, they wants player that bring visibility
    the example of this is the Manchester City, that did the biggest transaction of Premier League, when bought Robinho.

    By the way, this "new football", forgot that Football is a collective sport, like Brazil of 1970 and 1982,( the last unfortunately lost this Cup).

    I can give so many examples of national and local teams that have a great collective game.

    The soccer always be the sport more popular of the world, but I think it need to stop, If it continue, many countries will loose your identify and the magic.

    February 22, 2011 at 2:24 am | Reply
  38. Santosh Sharma Poudel

    FA should put some pressure on the club for the national player at least of 4.

    February 22, 2011 at 6:50 am | Reply
  39. Roberto

    We are proud of Athletic Club Bilbao. Only formed with homegrown players.

    February 22, 2011 at 6:56 am | Reply
  40. Treon T

    Hahaha..the comment by Calgary MUFC is classic, Only a blind united fan or one that knows little about football can use words like....

    "England does not under-achieve in international tournaments. This is a myth. For a nation of their size they do amazingly well, and could do much better if the grassroots coaching wasn't so archaic."

    Are you serious, do you even watch football?? Just name the last time England went about doing anything in any major competition?? I am a German supporter btw, and i really dislike how so many Premier League/England fans across the world ridicule the German football model. Yet, the Bundesliga produces some of the best players in the world and arguably THE most consistent team in the world. 3 World Cups, 3 Euros and i cant even remember the number of finals and semi finals we've been to. The last world cup is a case in point.
    And yes i am one, who believes a player is only as good as he plays for his country.

    February 22, 2011 at 8:40 am | Reply
  41. Ryan

    This article is very poor – most journalists choose to discuss both sides of any argument before reaching a conclusion to present to the reader. This article is more akin to an opinionated Facebook status update rather than a well balanced piece of journalism. Some of the points in the comments are much more interesting.

    February 22, 2011 at 8:49 am | Reply
  42. Saby

    Pedro Pinto again your opinions are so disconnected from footballers, fans and reality that it is a wonder you are still employed as a football pundit.
    A club is where people are paid to win games and work for the betterment of the club. However necessary.. within legal limits.

    Limiting the types of origins of players is not in the interests of the club and anyone at the club limiting themselves to local players only should be fired for going against club interests.
    Conversely National team managers should work for the national team interests and not the club.

    To be honest, the recent decades of the World Club has been at a low quality anyway as SA Ferguson said. Club football is much more exciting and interesting to follow and watch anyway.

    February 22, 2011 at 9:15 am | Reply
  43. Kenneth Caspar

    Are you working for a Portuguese company Mr. Pinto?

    February 22, 2011 at 9:16 am | Reply
  44. bops

    As some one above said its all about the magic of football. Who cares where Maradona came from if he is playing for my team ?

    February 22, 2011 at 10:25 am | Reply
  45. Saby

    Here's some logic.

    If you want to be good at something, play with the best. This will then rub off on you, gradually. You want your kids to be good at school? send them to a good school. You want to be a good player? Try to play in a league with the best players.

    The question is, do good players like CR7, Robinho, Drogba, Nani, Van Persie, Fabregas, etc, become worse off playing in the EPL? or do the English players get better being exposed to them?

    Lets say they disallow foreign players or limit them, will this improve English players? Following this logic, players in the championship should be very good, as they play with mostly English Players.

    What it comes down to is that something about the English Psyche, Culture, development or maybe just the food simply does not create a lot of great footballers. Having less foreign talent is unlikely to change that, it didn't really before did it?

    February 22, 2011 at 1:20 pm | Reply
  46. Bob T Builder

    @ michael mcKenzie why do you assume that everyone cares about the England team. The English premier league is popular for its multi national players. It has some of the best players in the world playing in it. People from other countries feel apart of it when they see players from their own countries playing for the teams. I said in an earlier post that England have always been useless, even in the 66 final. Ask yourself how many foreign players played in the English league from 1966 to 1990, you will find not many but the only constant is that England have always been mediocre. It is not up to the premier league (which I thought was independant from the F.A.) Foreign players have brought a higher skill level than what we can produce, you cant tell me that africans have a better chance of succeeding than an English boy. What you would be stopping by limiting foreign players is natrual in-born skill. Top stadiums are filled by teams with top players (apart from man city) I want to watch the best in the world not the best englands got to offer. so I hope the rules open the door to the players from all over the world. England has never tried to compete playing attractive football it has always been about stopping the opposition from playing. If you want English football watch the championship (long balls crunching tackles) The premiership (the clues in the name) should be left alone

    February 22, 2011 at 6:24 pm | Reply
  47. Michael McKenzie

    I agree "Treon T" , The Germans have a national league almost full of home grown players and by the recent performinces at the world cup it is improving the national team.

    And i would like to say to ian that even though teams like Man Utd and Chelsea can still fill there stadiums even though they have teams full of foreigners, other clubs struggle because they dont have the money to buy in good foreigners. With the more foreigners and the less good home grown players, a gap appears between rich and poor clubs and ultametly a much poorer league with 4 or 5 domminent clubs. The EPL could become similar to the SPL which would have devastating consiquences. The national team could become even worse.

    February 22, 2011 at 9:48 pm | Reply
  48. Bob T Builder

    Why do some of these comments assume that the F.A. have some sort of control over the premeirship? I'll stand corrected if I'm wrong, but wasn't the premier league created to break away from the archaic F.A system. Most supporters realise the difference between a football club and a national team, but here's my take clubs go out to entertain and try to win trophies. National Team thinks its got a right to tell clubs they need to do more to bring through the English youth of the country. So that they then have pointless friendlies (build the bank balance) at critical times in the season, and after playing the players out of position (stuart Pierce " I think he can do a job for us there" ) return said player injured. England don't need to pick players from the premiership, the football legue is there ready and waiting, being able to punt the ball up field is the only criteria needed. "England espects" (too much).

    February 23, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Reply
  49. Brian

    One truth is simply undeniable:


    Granted, there are several good teams that play in it, mostly because of the foreign players. Like someone said earlier, if I want to watch Arsenal play, i want to watch ARSENAL play – NOT ENGLAND. If i want to watch england play ill watch the WC, EuroCup or Int'l friendlies (and i dont think i would want to watch them anyways, considering they're appalling)

    I am opposed to this idea of regulating the number of foreign players (as I said in my earlier post), but I do agree that youth programs have a massive impact on the quality of national teams (e.g. Germany and Spain). The EPL is a big business, it's all about who has the most money and can pay the most for the best players. Is that wrong? Not necessarily, but I think there should be a balance between being a business (i.e. investing in players, etc) and being true to the sport. The EPL has forgotten (as someone said earlier) the magic of football.

    On that note, the EPL is WAAYY overrated. There are only two or three teams I would watch from the EPL, as opposed to other leagues in Europe. You can't just buy talent. True talent (as seen in South American players like Messi and Ronaldo, and German players Ozil and Schweinsteigger) play for the game, not the money. Are there financial benefits? Of course, but that's not the end goal. In England, you will never hear from a player straight up that he plays for the game – they play to win, make money, and be a star. It's quite repulsive, actually.

    I would really love to see an EPL team like Chelsea or ManU play just ONE season in the Brazilian or Argentinian leagues. They would have to struggle to even breathe – and not get relegated.

    February 23, 2011 at 7:52 pm | Reply
  50. andresmanzo@rocketmail.com

    Well said it Pedrito. That's why the suck at international competitions.. Poor English fans from Chelsea or Arsenal.. every other Sunday they are celebrating their "foreign" -home team winning . .. Unfortunelly, It's all about the money for these clubs... That's why these fans can not ask a foreign player to sweat for "it's" team, because they don't feel their jerseys . They forgot that the "essence" of the game is when you have teams fighting for their ideologies, pride, Identity, their colors: there's where you see their effort, their character, when players really know what means to wear those uniforms.. Their well written history were sold it for couple millions bucks, they maybe rich on their bank accounts but they are lacking of personality and pride ... because money can't never afford a brave heart. ... Sorry but some european clubs are showing No Identity at all !!!

    February 24, 2011 at 10:36 pm | Reply
  51. Bob T Builder

    @ Brian, totally agree, If England had a hundred academies the players coming through still would not match Brazilians, Argentinians, Germans, basically most countries, England boys dont have that raw natural skill.
    Apart from the odd one every 20 years. They could always go abroad and learn their trade in teams that plays with tecnique and flair.

    February 25, 2011 at 12:20 am | Reply
  52. AJay

    Pedro, I read your columns and watch your broadcasts. They are preety good. However, when you are talking about limiting free enterprise/freedom and movement of people for a national identity, you are way way on left field on this one. You and I are not smarter than the authorities in the individual countries. Let them figure out a way to increase the ranks of homegrown players in their leagues. Quotas is dead wrong. You now are in England working at CNN, educated in the USA, and born in another country other than England. And yes deserving because of your hard work and talent/skill. Just imagine if you were limited based on where you could work because of your nationality. Let free enterprise roll :).

    February 25, 2011 at 10:22 am | Reply
  53. Bemgba Nyakuma

    These numbers don’t lie, but do not give a clear picture of the situtaion. What Mr Pinto failed to mention is that Football is Business not National propaganda tool which brings in the numbers in huge revenues for clubs and countries. That said, no club will risk losing the huge TV money and funds the game of football is awash with these days – all for nationalistic ideology.

    The fact that England and other nations failed to do well in the World Cup has NOTHING to do with the number of players field by the clubs in league games. On the contrary it goes to show that there is a dearth of talent and this I opine very strongly cannot be changed by "the introduction of new rules" as suggest by Mr Pinto. Clearly what needs to be done is improve the youth programs and training young children from a very young age to play the beautiful game. The national FAs must draw up a blue print with a well marked time-line to achieve this. The progress of young players must be closely monitored and old or retiring players should to "ploughed back" to help mentor and train them.

    More so such rules will only erode the competitiveness of the various leagues around Europe; which we must all agree has benefited from the "foreign legion". Their presence has also bolstered TV coverage, revenues, and helped establish huge followership around the world like that which Man United enjoys – with financial benefits too.

    Finally, the writer must be mindful of advocating for the "introduction of such draconian rules", these may be viewed not only as nationalistic or but may also a stir up the kind of outrage (make that show of shame) witnessed in the Greek Super League where the black players of Panathinaikos were attacked after the Athens derby last weekend – football is called the beautiful game, for a reason – let's not spoil it.


    February 25, 2011 at 3:06 pm | Reply
  54. ngugi

    you only need 23 players to make a national team. if england is losing, it is not because of foreign players in their league, it is coz they lack the talent or the stamina of winners. their homegrown players gets to practice and play every day with the best football players in the world in the best pitches. they ought take advantage and grow up to much those foreigners.

    March 7, 2011 at 8:34 am | Reply
  55. morrison

    From the data your giving about each of the top clubs featuring only four home grown players in each weekend ,i think your dead wrong unless your own idea of being home grown is about color and race which i do not consider seriously that you Mr Pinto would be talking about.

    March 13, 2011 at 3:12 am | Reply

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