You have by now caught wind that Arsène wanted to sign Angel Di Maria when he was 16 but was prevented because of the British work permit laws. In some of the articles I’ve read on this topic there is even mention that the Football Association wants to artificially limit the number of non-EU footballers in the Premier League starting next season. To put a cap on the number of Latin American and Asian players, essentially.
It is, along with every idea that the FA has concocted since I’ve been writing about football, the dumbest idea ever. You know what this rule does? It makes the Spanish and German leagues stronger because they have a much deeper talent pool to draw from. It also enriches those leagues because they can get young Brazilians and Argentinians in early, spend a few years developing them, and then sell them to the Premier League for… what did di Maria cost Man U? Exactly.
And that’s not even mentioning the effect this will have on British players. With this rule, the homegrown rule, and everything else they have tried since they were forced to accept EU passport holders without caps, the FA acts like it believes that if they just closed off England to all foreign players, the British kids would get better.
I have news for you: England tried that and didn’t win a single World Cup after 1966 despite being one of the most closed off countries in the world.
If you really want British kids to get better at football you need them to play with kids like di Maria starting at a young age. You need them to work with coaches like Jonker and others who bring in new ideas and marry them to the old ideas.
I dare say, and I don’t have the stats to prove it, but I suspect Arsenal Football club have more former players currently playing in the Premier League than any other club. Song, Jenkinson, Fabregas, van Persie, Clichy, Sagna, and those are just the stars! There are many more second-tier Arsenal players (feel free to list them and their teams below).
The positive effect of Arsenal’s policy of taking on any player who is good enough regardless of their passport is on display every weekend in the Premier League. Every time Seb Larsson scores a winning goal off a set play, that’s Arsenal kicking a hole in England’s anti-immigration policy. Every time Fabregas sets up Costa, that’s Arsenal kicking another hole. Every time Alex Song (homegrown player) passes the ball to Jenkinson (local kid) who whips in a cross to that lumbering galoot Carroll, that’s Arsenal taking yet another chink out of the FA’s preposterously constructed anti-immigrant armor.
The Football Association’s preposterous attempts to enact what amounts to affirmative action for Englishmen is, and always has been, doomed to failure. No one in England benefits. The only people who win are the clubs in Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Germany, where players like Alexis have to go for 5 years while they wait to get their EU citizenship and then get sold to England for tens of millions of pounds.
And not only are these players now costing more, the fact that clubs are bringing in 26 year old players like di Maria instead of a 17 year old di Maria means that young English talent will not get a look in at these top clubs. Because a team is going to play a 26 year old (who is now the finished product) over the 17 year old English player who has a bright career in front of him.
It is exactly the kind of market meddling that always has the exact opposite effect from the one intended. Instead of bringing in competition for places, it artificially raises the competition to a point where English players are squeezed out. Further meddling, making the non-EU players rarer won’t help the Premier League or the English players. It will only help every other league in the world.
That’s your lot for today, I’ve ranted enough. Perhaps tomorrow I will bring some stats about corners and crosses. Maybe. Until then I have to go check my passport, I’m not sure if the FA wants me writing about English Football. After all, I’m an American.
I want to mention that Arsenal are doing an event in April called “Be a Gunner, Be a Runner.” It’s a short run, 6.4km (4 miles) in which the participants run 10 laps around the Emirates stadium. There is an entry fee of £15 with proceeds going to the Arsenal Foundation. The Arsenal Foundation is Arsenal’s official charity and works to help young people around the world fulfill their potential. The Arsenal Foundation partners with Save the Children and the Willow Foundation.
If you live in England or plan to be there on April 11th and want to participate you can find out more information on Arsenal.com. For those of us who live overseas we can participate as well and I thought it would be fun to get a group together here in my part of the world to train and run on April 11th. I have the route already picked out, it’s a forest jog through Tacoma’s very own Pt. Defiance. Perhaps you made a resolution to get fit in the new year? Getting a group run together is the perfect way to make that happen. I envision us practicing on the weekends after the matches, maybe every Saturday until we can nail the entire run in under an hour. If you’re into this sort of thing, send me an email to 7amkickoff at gmail and I’ll get you signed up. As a bonus, we will get numbers from Arsenal for the actual race day and I will take photos of us all and send them to the media folks. You could be famous!