FIFA president Sepp Blatter has criticised major European clubs for creating what he calls a “high-stakes trade in humans” in their pursuit of new audiences to increase their revenues.
“The process of globalisation, which affects all our lives, is exerting a malign influence on football,” said Blatter.
“A select few European clubs are increasingly desperate to appeal to international audiences in ever more distant parts of the globe to tap into new income streams that will allow them to continue to recruit what they regard as the “best” players.
“Since many such players hail from Africa, South America, Oceania and increasingly Asia, a high-stakes trade in humans is the end result,” Blatter added.
“If a London club has only a couple of English players in its first team squad, with the rest coming from half-a-dozen countries, I am sure I am not the only one who has a problem associating that club with its local area.
It may well be that such a club appeals to spectators as far afield as Asia, South American and the U.S..
“But what about the fan whose father and grandfather were season-ticket holders before him? Or the youngster who always dreamt of a career with his local club ?
“And what about the academy that is no longer in London, but Australia or Cameroon because it is supposedly cheaper to scout and develop local talent.
“What about the national team that, as a result, is deprived of players?”
Blatter’s views are shared by UEFA, which is considering introducing new rules forcing clubs to include a minimum number of homegrown players developed through their own youth programmes.