Premier League: Foreign player quotas 'xenophobic'
LONDON (AP) -Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore has criticized FIFA's plans to impose limits of foreign players as being "xenophobic.''
Scudamore denounced FIFA president Sepp Blatter's 6-plus-5 proposal - which would restrict clubs to a maximum of five foreigners in their starting lineups - as he defended maintaining diversity in football.
"I do struggle where nationalism, jingoism and patriotism stops and where actually some sort of xenophobic rhetoric takes over,'' Scudamore said. "And there is a certain amount of that in the football world, when I keep getting told that, 'How can English football be English football when there are not enough English players in a particular team?'
"I kind of struggle with that when everyone, probably bar David Beckham, qualified to play for England at the top level is playing at home.''
Scudamore and Blatter clashed at a meeting Monday at FIFA headquarters in Zurich over attempts to restrict foreign players.
Blatter's push stems from a concern that the Premier League is harming other leagues by hoarding the world's best players. He accused Scudamore on Thursday of being driven by generating wealth.
Scudamore believes that such quotas send out the wrong messages when football is still trying to eradicate racism.
"There is no doubt about it, we are attractive to the rest of the world because we've done that,'' Scudamore said.
Speaking at the launch of a new initiative from Kick It Out, English football's anti-racism body, Scudamore said that it is disingenuous to argue that the English national team has struggled because its clubs are packed with overseas players.
"I start to worry that these start to sound like the sort of attitudes that are quite difficult to justify in my football world, and I for one am not going to allow that agenda to be washed over,'' Scudamore said. "There is nobody more proud of the England football team than me, but we can't let that spill over into fear and this sort of agenda.''
"It is interesting balancing your nationalistic, patriotic support for an England team and all that goes with that, reconciled with a diverse, welcoming agenda where you don't want to sound xenophobic ... We get accused of not being pro-English because we have so many foreign players, but we also have so many English players and they are playing against the best week-in, week-out. It is possible to be a world league and also an English league.''
Scudamore said English players are still being given opportunities, with 80 percent of those in English academies, and stressed that players should be recognized by their skills and not their nationality.
"It is a much simpler world when you strive for an equality agenda and the best people get through, but you have to have give everyone a chance,'' Scudamore said. "There is nothing wrong with the best people getting through. It is much easier to get tied up in knots about nationality and it gets hugely complicated.''