In the latest edition of the official UEFA Champions League magazine, Champions, UEFA Chief Executive Lars-Christer Olsson writes about the issue of homegrown players and its importance for the future of football.
The future of football depends on the quality of young players. And we, in football, need to make sure this talent is given a fair chance to make it to the very top of the game.
Buying players can be easier in the short term but have unintended long-term consequences. At UEFA EURO 2004™ for example, it was hard for Germany to find a striker – because 65 per cent of the attackers in that country were not German.
Youngsters have a choice. They don't have to play football. If there was no incentive, no route to the top that they can see, there is always the risk they could take up another sport. All fans want their teams to be successful, but we believe they would identify more strongly with their clubs if young homegrown players were coming through.
UEFA has discussed with the European Club Forum, a body which draws together 102 clubs from across the continent, how we can help protect the game's future and ensure we are nurturing enough new talent.
UEFA has proposed that all clubs in Europe should have six to eight homegrown players in their squad. Under this proposal we define homegrown players as those who have been developed and trained at the clubs during a certain period of their development.
Step in the right direction
We have also discussed, with members of the Club Forum and others, restricting the size of squads so that big clubs don't just use homegrown players to keep their benches warm. This plan could, if the UEFA Congress next April supports it, be introduced at the start of next season. We don't think this one step will safeguard the way young talent is nurtured in European football, but we do think it's a significant step in the right direction.
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