It was inevitable but those of us opposed to the idea due to its economic illogicality feared that somehow it might get through anyway. FIFA’s plan to have six “home-grown” players in a team’s starting lineup has been abandoned.
At no point was the point that protecting mediocre home-grown players only results in mediocre leagues and worse national teams, and nowhere in the media was this point made either.
So those of us with any economics education that follow football are relieved that the European Union exists to promote the free movement of factors of production, notably footballers. FIFA dropped its plans basically because it couldn’t get around this EU legislation.
Sadly, most football fans in the UK will probably see this as another reason to dislike the EU, even though it’s one of the greatest things they’ve probably done for football, not least English football which probably stood to lose out the most given the number of overseas players playing here.
In fact, as I believe Stefan Szymanski and Simon Kuper put in their book Soccernomics, there is probably too many English players in the Premiership! It is essentially an international league now, where the best players in the world congregate (Spain aside – but there they mainly play for two sides – Barca or Real), and hence it’s about the best possible training ground for future England stars: They get to play the world’s best players every week and have to compete with them all the time, hence they have to be good enough.
On the other hand, another argument apparently aired by Sven Goran Erikkson after England failed in 2006 was that the players from the Premiership are tired after having to exert so much effort every week: They don’t get the rest weeks of easy matches like perhaps they do in other leagues. In that case, it’s great for England that now so many players play in the Premiership, as they won’t be the only tired team in the World Cup starting tomorrow…