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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Feb 28, 2009

FIFA boss Blatter: Football is at a crossroads

Sepp Blatter has launched a fresh diatribe against Premier League clubs' love of foreign players and warned that football is "at a crossroads".

The FIFA president claims his plans to introduce the '6+5' rule are gathering momentum and do not breach European law, and that action is needed to restore national identity to football.

Blatter, speaking after the International FA Board meeting in Belfast, said: "The four English teams in the Champions League this week had a total of nine English players - two in Liverpool, four in Chelsea, three in Manchester [United] and zero in Arsenal.

"Do you think that is the right thing? We are at a crossroads in FIFA.

"We have to intervene in football to make sure that club football is identified if not locally then nationally, that you have the majority of players from the same country in a team.

"If this is not possible we will have football on two levels, the rich and those who have nothing."

It is not just the Premier League clubs who are packed with foreign players - Liverpool had more Spaniards then Real Madrid while Inter Milan, Manchester United's opponents, also had only three Italians involved.

Blatter said the top leagues had a responsibility to the rest of football.

He added: "The Premier League is not a monster, but you can imagine the impact of the English league. It's good because they just confirmed the new television contract over the next three years despite the economic crisis.

"In France they have an expression 'l'appetit vient en mangeant'. It means when you are at a good table you like to eat more and more and more. And this is the success story of the Premier League, but they should also look on the others.

"They can have 30 players on contracts who could all play in other leagues or even in the same league in other clubs, but they keep the best because they have the money."

Blatter's idea is that there would first be a maximum of seven foreigners in a starting line-up, and then be reduced to five.

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