England has a Blatter problem

GARETH WHEELER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:15 AM ET

Have you got nothing better to do, Sepp Blatter?

FIFA's head honcho is pressing forward his "6+5" plan, to limit the number of foreigners competing on European club teams.

The strategy: force teams to have at least six players in their starting XI from the country where the domestic league is located.

The European Commission has deemed the proposed rule to be discriminatory, yet Blatter is unfazed. He will bring forth the mandate when FIFA's congress meets in Australia later this month.

Quotas based on nationalism? What is this -- the CFL? Nationalism died with Franz Ferdinand and I'm not talking about the band.

The reason Sepp is being so bullish: He thinks it's the way to even the playing field in the Champions League.

Pardon me? Apparently the strong performances by high-spending English clubs in the Champions League caught Sepp's attention.

So his solution is that Manchester United and Chelsea have to play more English players.The way England plays, that plan might actually work but that shouldn't be the goal. The basis for Sepp's entire argument is pure nonsense.

I understand Blatter wants to leave a legacy, with this being his last term as president. But does the football world really need more backward thinking?

Let's start with the playing-field argument. The whole idea is false. Success in the Champions League is completely cyclical. A couple of years ago, Spanish teams were dominant. A couple of years before that, it was Italian teams. Where were the English teams then?

Nationality has nothing to do with it. And if competitive balance is the goal, it completely alienates the fans. They don't care what country their players come from. It's about winning and quality on the pitch.

Why should they have to watch a second-rate lineup determined by nationality, rather than ability? If football clubs have the money, they should be able to buy and play whatever player they want.

The current system rewards squads that are willing to invest in their product. It promotes positive scouting and gives players from less-affluent countries a chance to apply their trade in an environment where they can make substantial wages and play at the highest level.

So forget about this "6+5" concept. Forcing teams to overpay for marginal English talent (as has been the case recently) is a far bigger crime.

So Sepp, don't you have bigger fish to fry? How's that goal-line technology thing coming along?

CANADA'S TEAM

Let's apply Sepp's logic to TFC's current squad.

When TFC became a franchise, the underlying belief was that the club's foundation would consist of Canadian players. This, in turn would directly benefit the national team. That belief was, and continues to be, misguided.

Last year's foundation of Canadian players on TFC was awful. This year's squad, to nobody's surprise has been markedly improved. The difference: TFC's current starting XI only has two Canucks among the bunch: captain Jim Brennan and goalkeeper Greg Sutton.

If TFC was forced to fit into the "6+5" model, it would have to insert Andrea Lombardo, Kevin Harmse, Joey Melo, and Gabe Gala into the starting lineup. That means Danny Dichio, Carl Robinson, Rohan Ricketts and Marco Velez would be relegated to the bench.

Who does this benefit? The answer is nobody. Players get better through proper development and playing with and against the best players they possibly can.

TFC ACADEMY

While TFC has been enjoying a well-deserved early-season breather, the CSL's TFC Academy has been busy preparing for its inaugural season.

The Academy represents the next step in the CSL's growth, developing into a true second division. With TFC, and likely MLS expansion into Vancouver and Montreal, it's clear there will never be a top-flight all-Canadian division. But with league plans to expand out west, as well as expansion plans to the Toronto-based international division, the CSL looks like it's becoming a legit second division.


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