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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Nov 3, 2006

Wenger attacks FIFA quota proposal

Arsene Wenger believes any moves to impose quotas of `home-grown' players on a team's starting XI would be doomed to failure.

FIFA and the international players' union, who yesterday signed a 'memorandum of understanding', have proposed the implementation of a six plus five system, whereby six members of a side must be eligible to play for the club's national association.

But Wenger feels players must always be picked on their ability, and not their passport.

'It is not to protect the national identity, it is to protect the national teams, their competitions, and their incomes,' said the Arsenal manager.

'Football bodies have to care about the level of the game -- the level of the game does not mean protect mediocrity.'

When Arsenal reached the Champions League final last season, they only had two Englishmen in their starting XI -- Sol Campbell and Ashley Cole. Both have now left the club.

Defender Justin Hoyte is likely to be the solitary Englishman in the side when the Gunners line up to face West Ham on Sunday.

The Arsenal boss was criticised by the Hammers manager Alan Pardew last season following the Champions League victory over Real Madrid for not placing enough emphasis on home-grown talent.

It is a stance Wenger has always vehemently rejected -- and at the time accused Pardew of hypocrisy and racism.

'I would never like to feel somebody is better than me, but sits on the bench just because he does not have the right passport,' Wenger added.

'I am just concerned that when you love football, you have not got to act this way and be big enough, and capable enough to say `you do not play because you are not good enough'.

'Elite sport is first about quality. That is what I fight for.'

Wenger believes such a system would be cheating the fans who part with their hard-earned cash at the gates.

The Arsenal boss added: 'What can you say to a guy who pays money to watch your team? This player's first touch is not good, yes, we know but he is English. What can I do?'

'You are telling them `yes, okay he is not good enough, but we have to play him because he is from the right country'.

'I would like to say, `listen, whether he English, South African, French or South American, he is a good football player'.

'You say to a player, `you play because you are better'. I have always done that in my life.'

Wenger declared: 'It is contestable because it is not defendable.

'How can you stop somebody from playing? Because just within the European Union, you cannot stop him from playing.

'It is a rule which cost a lot of time and money to produce, that will not resist the first challenge in the European Court.

'It will be destroyed.'

The Gunners suffered a frustrating 90 minutes in midweek, when they dominated their Champions League clash against CSKA Moscow -- but could just not put the ball into the net.

Wenger's men will be looking for an instant response at Upton Park, having won five Barclays Premiership matches in a row before being held to a 1-1 draw by Everton last Saturday.

However, the Arsenal boss insisted: 'It would be a bit pretentious to say someone will suffer the backlash this weekend.

'You want just to continue and play well like we did.

'Every game has different problems, sometimes you deal with fatigue, sometimes it is the opponent.

'You just want to keep the same level of quality in our game. If we do that, then we have a good chance to beat West Ham.'