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Anti-Englishness in football usually comes from Michel Platini, the Head of UEFA (European football's governing body), and his colleagues. This is usually down to Platini and UEFA's inferiority complex and jealousy towards English football whose teams have reached the European Cup Final every year since 2005, winning it in 2005 and 2008. Both of the finalists in last year's Final were English teams - Manchester United and Chelsea. And it's looking likely at least one English team will reach the Final against this year. Not to mention the fact that, unlike Continental European football, racism has been all but wiped out in English football

Now the Head of FIFA (football's world governing body), Sepp Blatter, has given us his views of English football this week.

Blatter's trick - favoured by his friend Michel Platini, too - is that he takes the evils of the game worldwide and attributes them all to English football.

In his latest attack, Blatter says that English teams are only successful thanks to the high numbers of foreigners in them.

But when you look at the actual statistics, Blatter could not be more wrong. Continental European teams are more guilty of using foreign players than English teams are.

In this column, the Daily Mail's Martin Samuel says Blatter should Butt out - the English recipe has the best ingredients, and maybe that explains the great success enjoyed by English club teams compared to their Continental European counterparts.

Butt out Blatter - our recipe has best ingredients

04th March 2009
Daily Mail
Martinh Samuel

Sepp Blatter used a phrase to express his view of English football this week.

L'appetit vient en mangeant. The appetite comes with the eating, is the translation. 'It means when you are at a good table you like to eat more and more,' Blatter explained, helpfully. 'It is the story of the English Premier League.'

Of course, if anybody knows the whereabouts of a good table it is a man at the head of a major sports administration. You should see these guys go to work.

Blatter's organisation, FIFA, even has an anthem, composed by a German organist, Franz Lambert. No doubt if Blatter had his way we would all stand for it. This is a man so high on self-importance he pronounces on resolutions in Palestine and North Korea, as if he is part of the solution.



English, European and World Champions: Sepp Blatter enjoys Manchester United's Club World Cup success in December, following on from their success in the English Premier League and European Cup

True story: Before Christmas, I was in the British Airways lounge at Narita airport, Tokyo, returning from the Club World Cup. These places tend to get crowded before trans-continental flights, but in centrepiece position were a table and chairs that had been reserved, something I have never seen in an airline lounge.

This was going to be special, I thought, Gordon Brown or royalty at the very least.

And then in walked Geoff Thompson, former chairman of the Sheffield and Hallamshire Football Association and now a vicepresident of FIFA, and his wife.

Lackeys fussed as they were seated in their reserved places. Now, if a bloke who never stuck his head over the Soho Square parapet while supervising close to a decade of chaos as chairman of the FA gets this treatment, can you imagine what life must be like for Blatter, the man currently lecturing the Premier League on the subject of greed?

Blatter's trick - favoured by his friend Michel Platini, president of UEFA, too - is that he takes the evils of the game worldwide and attributes them to English football.

At a FIFA meeting in County Down at the weekend - held at the Slieve Donard hotel, recently subject to a 15million refurbishment and now claiming to be one of Europe's finest resort spas - Blatter warmed to what is now his standard attack on English greed.

'The four English teams in the Champions League, including substitutions, had nine English players,' he said, 'but there were 20 or 21 Brazilians, 21 Italians, 16 Argentinians and I don't know how many Africans. Do you think that is right? I was in Brazil and spoke to President Lula, who said please do something to stop the exodus of Brazilian players.

The African market is practically drained.' To hear this, one would think it was the English Premier League that had sucked Brazil dry.

Yet the four English teams in the Champions League fielded a total of four Brazilians: Denilson of Arsenal, who would not have played had Cesc Fabregas been fit, Alex of Chelsea, who would not have played had Ricardo Carvalho been fit, Fabio Aurelio of Liverpool, who had six years at Spanish side Valencia before arriving at Anfield and is so Brazilian that he holds an Italian passport and has not represented his country since the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, and Lucas Leiva of Liverpool, who was on for approximately one minute during second-half injury time.

Nobody in his right mind would suggest that the Brazilians playing for English clubs last week represented a plundering of natural resources. If they returned, en masse, to their native country tomorrow, neither the quality of football nor the attendances at matches would improve.

By contrast, the four continental teams that the English clubs faced - Real Madrid, Inter Milan, Juventus and Roma - fielded NINE Brazilians, including some useful ones like Adriano and Julio Cesar.



Samba style: Liverpool's Brazilian defender Fabio Aurelio challenges Arjen Robben of Real Madrid, in a game Liverpool won 1-0

And if there were six African players in action for English clubs compared to just two spread through the opposition, could the reason be that some players prefer not to play their football against a backdrop of racist monkey chants? After all, Zenit St Petersburg field an admirable number of Russians but when Dick Advocaat, their coach, admits supporters would not allow the signing of a black player it rather takes the gloss off that achievement.

The fact is that Liverpool had as many English players involved as Inter Milan did Italians, and Chelsea and Manchester United had more. There were two Italians on the field for Inter at the San Siro, but only one made the starting line-up and the other, substitute Mario Balotelli, has been Italian since August 13, 2008.

Chelsea fielded four Englishmen with substitute Michael Mancienne; Manchester United had three, even with Paul Scholes left out and Gary Neville and Wes Brown injured. Theo Walcott would have started for Arsenal, if fit.

This is not ideal, we know, which is why so many are rooting for Martin O'Neill's Aston Villa. But to massage the figures to suggest English football is a wild exception, or that the most successful teams in the biggest European leagues are very different, is disingenuous.

Juventus are truest to their national roots, although that might be a result of the exodus that followed their recent demotion for rigging matches. Claudio Ranieri, their coach, used 12 players against Chelsea and eight were Italian.

However, one of them, Mauro Camoranesi, born in Tandil in the south-west of Buenos Aires province, chose to become Italian only after failing to make it into Argentina's national team (the way that Manuel Almunia, the Arsenal goalkeeper, could still end up an Englishman if Fabio Capello decrees, despite being born in that most Spanish of towns, Pamplona in Navarre).

Camoranesi's adopted nationality is significant because, for Juventus, eight out of 12 nationals (two thirds) does sound a lot better than seven out of 12 (just over half). Yet Camoranesi wears his Italian ethnicity lightly. Born in Argentina, his first club was Mexican, his second Uruguayan, he went back to Argentina for a year, then to Mexico again, before arriving in Verona, Italy, at the age of 24. Yet no doubt he will be one of the 21 Italians that Blatter claimed played in Europe last week.

By contrast, Blatter never allows England to take credit for the British and Irish players who are the products of the English league, preferring to lump them in with the foreigners in his speeches.

Yet if Aaron Ramsey of Arsenal, plus Ryan Giggs, Jonny Evans, John O'Shea and Darren Fletcher of Manchester United were brought into Blatter's calculations that would have given England, or the English system, the claim to 14 representatives in Europe last week, not nine.



Home rule: Villa boss O'Neill has put his faith in English players like Ashley Young

And without wishing to steal a man's nationality, using Camoranesi as the yardstick, why shouldn't this be? Ramsey, signed by Arsenal in the summer, was the product of Cardiff City, a Football League club, while the Manchester United quartet were all members of the academy at Old Trafford. It is impossible therefore to divorce their success from English football, particularly when players who were active for seven formative years in the Americas can now be paraded as Italians.

Yes, we would all love an English league made up of wonderful English players - just as we would like our own lane back at passport control, but that isn't going to happen, either - and never forget, we did NOT start this.

The first English winners of the European Cup, Manchester United in 1968, beat a Benfica team (Portuguese) coached by a Brazilian, Otto Gloria, and inspired by players such as Eusebio and Mario Coluna, the captain, born in Mozambique.

Liverpool's first European Cup win was over a Borussia Monchengladbach team including striker Allan Simonsen, a Dane and European Footballer of the Year. The manager of Liverpool's next European Cup final opponents, Club Brugge of Belgium, was Ernst Happel, an Austrian, and his team included two Norwegians, an Austrian and a Hungarian.

Bobby Houghton, the manager of the Malmo team beaten by Nottingham Forest, was English, as was Hamburg's striker the next season, Kevin Keegan. His manager and one of his team-mates were Yugoslavian.

The Real Madrid team that lost to Liverpool included another Englishman, Laurie Cunningham, and a German and was coached by a Yugoslavian, and the Bayern Munich team defeated by Aston Villa was coached by Pal Csernai, from Hungary.

When Liverpool defeated Roma, two opposition players were Brazilian and the coach was Swedish. That night, a Zimbabwean goalkeeper called Bruce Grobbelaar was on the winning side. He became the first foreigner to win a European Cup medal with an English club: by which time English clubs had lifted the trophy eight times.

So, all that has happened is that English football has evolved to embrace the sense of internationalism that has been alive in mainland Europe for 50 years; and because the Premier League is a financial powerhouse right now, and its elite boosted by money from UEFA's Champions League, it has done this bigger and better than was previously envisaged.

Now, the very clubs that patented the idea of the foreign coach and the star foreign player are being beaten at their game and they do not like it.

They run to Platini or Blatter to sort it out and they come up with bad ideas such as linking transfers to revenue streams, or re-introducing employment laws that take against the principles of the European Union.

They claim no grudge against the English, but how can this be when the criticism takes in every negative about the best of the Premier League but finds no room for its positives? All that has changed is that our foreign players are now better than their foreign players. At the top end, English football is no longer a haven for the old and the lame, but the young and ambitious.

Yes, we would like Arsene Wenger (the manager of Arsenal) to pick more English players but, deep down, this is not a case of England eating more and more, but of Continental Europe falling out of love with its old recipes.

dailymail.co.uk
Last edited by Blackleaf; Mar 4th, 2009 at 03:02 PM..