Blatter supports foreigner limits

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The Independent Online

Sepp Blatter has added his voice to the campaign to limit the number of foreign players in domestic leagues by accusing major European clubs of creating a "high-stakes trade in humans".

Sepp Blatter has added his voice to the campaign to limit the number of foreign players in domestic leagues by accusing major European clubs of creating a "high-stakes trade in humans". And, in a swipe apparently aimed at either Arsenal or Chelsea, the president of Fifa, football's world governing body, has criticised major European clubs who abandon their roots, hiring overseas players instead of the locals he suggests the fans want to see.

"A select few European clubs are increasingly desperate to to appeal to international audiences in ever more distant parts of the globe to tap into new income streams that will allow them to continue to recruit what they regard as the 'best' players," said Blatter, writing in the new edition of Fifa's monthly magazine.

Although the tone suggests that the penny has only just dropped for Blatter about a pattern of mass migration in the game that is almost a decade old, his words will hearten those, including Uefa, European football's governing body, which wants to see limits on foreign players.

"If a London club has only a couple of English players in its first team squad, with the rest coming from half-a-dozen countries, I am sure I am not the only one who has a problem associating that club with its local area," Blatter said.

"It may well be that such a club appeals to spectators as far afield as Asia, South American and the US.

"But what about the fan whose father and grandfather were season-ticket holders before him? Or the youngster who always dreamt of a career with his local club?

"And what about the academy that is no longer in London, but Australia or Cameroon because it is supposedly cheaper to scout and develop local talent.

"What about the national team that, as a result, is deprived of players?"

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