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Ferguson urges limits on foreign players

sports Updated: Dec 18, 2008 11:49 IST

AFP
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Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson has backed FIFA's plan to limit the number of foreign players at clubs, saying it is crucial to help develop local talent.

FIFA's 6+5 proposals would oblige teams to play at least six homegrown players in a match, but it is opposed by the European Commission because it breaches the bloc's strict rules on free movement of workers.

Ferguson though said the plan was important in encouraging the development and protection of young talent.

"I think it should be a concern when local and national players are not given opportunities, so therefore eventually there have to be limitations on foreign players," he said after meeting here with FIFA president Sepp Blatter.

"That way clubs' youth systems are protected. Progress is progress and the future has to protect the national game."

The United manager, in Japan for the Club World Cup, said fans in England could identify more with a side that had local players.

"Yes, there's no doubt about it. And even though we have players that are Welsh, Scottish and Irish, it is still the same culture and fans can identify with that," he told FIFA.com.

He added that what he tried to cultivate at Old Trafford was club loyalty, and that often came from bringing players through the youth system, pointing to veterans Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Gary Neville.

"We have been fortunate that the players we have understand the romance and loyalty of the club," he said.

"Ryan Giggs has been with the club for 21 years, Gary Neville and Paul Scholes for 19 years, and that demonstrates the part loyalty plays in the game.

"People look at the stats of those three players and will be amazed, but why? These players have supported the club with their loyalty but it's a two-way thing and we are proud of that.

"Wes Brown, Darren Fletcher and John O'Shea are also instrumental. We've brought young players in and they've stayed for the duration. As a club, we encourage loyalty."

Blatter wants to introduce his system from 2010 with a minimum of four home players, going up to five in 2011 and the full six by 2012.

He has previously said that the 6+5 plan, mandated by the FIFA Congress this year, will "encourage the protection of minors, combat trafficking, help clubs consolidate their identity and make competitions fairer."