English clubs risk losing identity, says Platini

  • Other Sport
  • Friday, 10 Oct 2008

LIVERPOOL: UEFA president Michel Platini warned on Wednesday that English clubs were in danger of losing their identity because of the influx of foreign owners into the Premier League.

“Do you want in Liverpool an Arab sheikh as president with one Brazilian coach and nine or 11 African players?” Platini told a news conference. “Where is Liverpool in that? We have to make some rules.”

Nine of the 20 top-flight clubs in English football have foreign owners and Football Association chairman Lord Triesman spoke this week about the need for stricter tests for would-be owners arriving from overseas.

Platini said the question of foreign owners €” some of whom have saddled their clubs with huge debts €” was a matter for the British government, but added UEFA were looking at ways of introducing Europe-wide regulations.

Speaking ahead of his induction into the English National Football Museum’s European Hall of Fame, Platini said: “From my point of view, it is an English law and depends on your parliament.

“What is football? Football is a game and this game has become popular because of the identity.

“You have to have identity, that is where football’s popularity lies, if you bring some people from Qatar and there is no one from Liverpool or Manchester on the pitch or in the company, where is Liverpool or Manchester?

“I think it is not good. I think the Qataris should invest in Qatar ... they should develop the football in each country.

“Not go to take money and to come and take a chance and then go back. Can we do something against it? I will try to do something, I am not sure it will be possible to do that but I have to see European law, English law, French, German, Russian, Ukrainian, many.”

The former French playmaker also criticised English clubs for poaching underage players from abroad as he stressed the need to “control the transfer of minors”.

“When you buy Ronaldo or Pele or Maradona or Robinho, I have no problem. But when you buy players at 13, 14 or 15 years, I don’t like that. One player aged 11 is coming from Marseille to Chelsea. For the mother you think that is good?” €” Reuters

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