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Can French claim innocence in tapping-up row?

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Steve Wilson | 19:42 UK time, Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Thanks to everyone who put forward their selections for the Match of the Day sweep (Are you a match for the BBC? Posted: 13 Aug). There were 849 posts, which was a wonderful response.

Within the Match of the Day office, there were 49 entries this season, including Messrs Dixon, Shearer and Bright. Dan Walker and Damien Johnson of Football Focus, commentators Motson, Mowbray, Pearce and Wilson, plus various editors, directors, producers, production assistants and floor managers also weighed in with selections.

I hope to work out the points totals for the MOTD entries at reasonably regular intervals throughout the season and post the latest scores on this blog. It's up to you to mark your own and compare - I know I can rely on your honesty and integrity!

Speaking of honesty, I wonder what to make of the row being kicked up by some French clubs over the alleged poaching of their youngsters by the giants of the Premier League. There is no doubt that it has to be wrong to offer inducements to the families of minors, and that those clubs and individuals found guilty deserve to be punished.

Gael Kakuta - the player at the centre of the tapping-up row involving Chelsea

Having said that, have not French clubs trawled Africa for years to import the best talent from Senegal, Ghana, the Ivory Coast, Congo and Cameroon? Are these clubs completely satisfied that no young player has ever been swayed in his decision to move to France, and in some cases to take French citizenship, by the lure of cold, hard cash?

One of French football's greatest achievements over the last decade has been to integrate players born outside France into their national team.

For young, French-speaking African footballers, the chance to move to a French club is a dream come true. The money will transform their lives and those of their families, whilst the French football system may help them become top-class players.

The same surely applies to a young, French player given the chance to move to England - the standard of football is better and so is the money. It is simply a question of degrees; small fish - bigger fish - big fish. The same logic took Kaka, Ronaldo, Alonso and Benzema to Real Madrid this summer - right now they are the biggest fish going.

African clubs, French clubs, English clubs may all be justified in feeling hard done by to some extent as their best talent is lured away. However, the real losers are the hundreds of kids who are uprooted from their homes and families to pursue a dream of fame and fortune, only to fail to make the grade. What can football do for them?

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Small Fish -> Bigger Fish -> Big Fish

    Sporting Lisbon -> Man United -> Real Madrid

    Real Sociedad -> Liverpool -> Real Madrid

    Monaco -> Arsenal -> Man City

    West Ham -> Man United -> Man City

    Santos -> Real Madrid -> Man City

    ... so are City a big club?

  • Comment number 2.

    i just hope UEFA are thorough with their investigations and not just with the english clubs. its interesting that you point out the french clubs scouting the african nations for talents, lets see what UEFA has to say about that.

    http://wdkf.co.uk/

  • Comment number 3.

    At last someone else has spotted this hypocrisy from the French, how many of their National team players have been lured away from Africa in recent years?
    I'm not saying I agree with what british clubs are doing but should this rule not extend to cover all players wether they are from France Senegal or Argentina.

  • Comment number 4.

    small fish -> bigger fish -> big fish

    In the football world, you can just replace 'big' with 'rich'.

    poor fish -> richer fish -> loaded fish.

    So yeah, City are a loaded fish.

  • Comment number 5.

    "There is no doubt that it has to be wrong to offer inducements to the families of minors." What a ridiculous statement. Parents constantly make decisions on what's best for their children and the family. Why is it wrong to give them an extra option, which they can accept, reject or negotiate on? There may well be instances when it better for child and family to choose an option which improves the child's career prospects. It's not as if we're sending four-year-olds down the pit, you know. Most children left school at 14 when I was growing up, why is it so terrible to offer a wonderful opportunity to a 16 or 17-year-old? You should get out more.

  • Comment number 6.

    Careful Steve, just because the French national team have a lot of "non pure blood French" players in it doesn't necessarily mean that the French teams have nicked all the best players from Africa.

    There are a huge number of immigrants comming in from Africa to France,mostly from from North Africa (Zidane, Benzema, Nasri...) and other French speaking African nations (i.e. Senegal - Vieira). But then the likes of Henry, Silvestre and Lassana Diarra all were born and grew up in France.

    Just writing to clarify that although these French exchanges may seem a bit fishy, quite a few of these kids are born and raised in France and not "imported" from other countries.

  • Comment number 7.

    Would it be too much to as that you back up insinuations with some evidence? What clubs and players are you talking about?
    What you're trying to do is deflect attention from the English clubs purely because they are English.
    You miss the point if I'm not mistaken. The authorities are coming down hard on Chelsea not because they got a player to join them but because they got him to break his contract. Quite an important point I think but don't let that stand in the way of your insinuations about French clubs. It's much easier to point the finger at others than examine what English clubs are up to.

  • Comment number 8.

    In response to some of these comments , let me point out that in the French national team recent match against Serbia , only two players were born in foreign countries ( Mandanda born in the Congo, who came to France in his late teens and Evra born in Senegal who also came to France in his teens). All other players were born and bred in France.The actual debate is legitimate enough so as not to divert attention on spurious claims.

  • Comment number 9.

    reddevil34

    Careful, you are broadcasting assumptions about which you can have no certainty. No-one is disputing France has colonial immigration. Where does it mention "nicking all the best players in Africa" or that these players are all playing in the French national side? The point Steve is trying to make, a valid one at that, is there are a great number of African players plying their trade in France who have been nurtured by the French club system. Many of these players end up playing for African national sides, for example Bassong, Drogba, Essien to name but three. Let's ignore the fact that the French national side is very successful and well practised in luring some African players to don the Tricolour - the French clubs do very well out of these players! Essien was sold for £25 million which Lyon pocketed, Bassong sold to Newcastle...how much of that money went to African clubs? How influential were African clubs in the initial development of these players? What, if any compensation did they receive when a French club takes them away?

    You speak as if you have the answers, but unless you know the situation intimately I doubt you do. Steve's point is well made, these players are probably exploited from the moment they display a talent, be it by the club who sings them as the finished article or by the club that take them from their homeland. You're taking the easy option and parroting the popular argument of English clubs being the only culpits. The French are being very hypocritical on this issue.

  • Comment number 10.

    What hasn't really been clarified in the media - as far as I know - is how on earth Kakuta could've had a contract when he was only sixteen? This quote from Lens president Gervais Martellooks so suspect:

    "Chelsea didn't follow the rules. They contacted the player when he wasn't even 16 and while he had been contracted to our training group from the age of eight."

    Contracted from the age of EIGHT?! Surely, Mr. Blatter, THAT's child labour and child slavery!

    I was under the (apparently false) impression that no club could sign a player to a professional contract until they reached seventeen (and I thought this extended to 18 in France and Italy); any player transferring to another team before that point was to be covered under an agreement of compensation for training - for example, John Bostock moving from Crystal Palace to Tottenham. Crystal Palace couldn't do much, because Bostock wasn't under contract as he was too young. Surely the same applied to Katuka?

    And I think there is validity in questioning the incredible number of African players playing in the French leagues - does FIFA really believe that not a single one of them was brought in through inducements to their families?

  • Comment number 11.

    How can you all be so naive .... EVERBODY is at it .... and what really is wrong to offer a family a new home and some money .. The only thing that needs doing is to establish transparency over the whole procedure. That will clear out the hypocrites and enable kids (and their families ) that do not make it to at least hang on to their incentive cash and go away with a compensation once they are shown the door.
    But of course I am dreaming ,,,, No one wants to be that honest !!

  • Comment number 12.

    Interesting article though one of the main arguments is flawed. It wrongly gives the impression that French football is importing African players to strengthen its national team.

    This is a misrepresentation of the reality. If anything, African countries are benefiting from the French football system as some of the best players playing for these countries were born, raised and trained in France: Marouane Chamakh for Morocco, Karim Ziani for Algeria, Habib Beye for Senegal, Frédéric Kanouté for Mali, Sébastien Bassong for Cameroon to name a few. There are generally at least three or four players born and raised in France playing for Algeria, Mali, Senegal, Côte d'Ivoire, Togo, Cameroon...

    On the other hand, give me names of players who were "lured away" from Africa and are/were playing for the French national team???

    I cannot think of any. The only African-born players we have had in the history of our national team are Jean Tigana, Marcel Desailly, Patrick Vieira, Claude Makelele and Steve Mandanda. As far as I know, they all came very young to France and not because they were talented footballers in their countries.

    Please check your facts.



  • Comment number 13.

    I forgot Patrice Evra but the same applies to him I believe.

  • Comment number 14.

    At 02:43am on 10 Sep 2009, sebinjapan wrote:

    Re-read the article. The national team isn't mentioned. They induce players to take out French citizenship so they become "European" and can be sold on more easily through Europe.
    Anyhow, the charity Culture Foot Solidaire has done a lot of work in helping African kids, who are tossed out by French clubs.

    http://www.footsolidaire.org/

  • Comment number 15.

    I very much doubt that they would need to offer incentives to the families of many young African players. Surely just being offered the oppurtunity to join a club in Europe is a big enough lure in itself.

  • Comment number 16.

    "One of French football's greatest achievements over the last decade has been to integrate players born outside France into their national team".
    Who on earth is Steve Wilson referring to?
    Zidane, Benzema and Nasri (mentioned above) were all born in France for instance, not Africa.
    Others born in the Dom-Toms were effectively born in France, that being the status of these overseas departments and territories.
    Honestly, very few players in the French national team in recent times were not born in France. Just become someone is black, that doesn't necessarily mean they were born in Africa!

  • Comment number 17.

    Viera moved to France with his parents aged 8 and not because he was tapped up, but as economic migrants. Desailly was 4yrs old and the stepson of the French consulate. Makele was 4 and the son of a footballer who played for DPR Congo. So just what are you on about Steve?

  • Comment number 18.

    @ Hughesinho

    The national team IS mentioned and just after mentioning that some African players took "French citizenship, by the lure of cold, hard cash?".

    Steve Wilson is doing some very dubious associations there giving the false impression that France is importing African players - luring them by cash - to improve the French national team standards.

    These kind of comments are usually made by ignorant people who mix-up skin colour/origin and citizenship/place of birth, not by talented BBC journalists.

    Hence my original reaction.

  • Comment number 19.

    #10 - you've hit the nail on the head for me.

    Peter Kenyon was careful in his statement (reported on this site the other day)to say that Chelsea fully support a ban on international transfers below a certain age (17 or 18, I can't recall). I'm sure all teams will echo that. But, surely, if a player cannot be contracted below 18 then there can be no 'transfer'? Ergo, Chelsea (and United - my team - Arsenal, etc) can continue to invite these young players to come and sign over here where they can be contracted from a younger age.

    Even if they cannot be contracted, Dario Gradi was quoted yesterday in saying that 'higher' clubs merely offer better 'expenses' to trainees and so (in the 'lower' clubs' view) poach the player.

    So Blatter and Platini, with their child labour / slave trade comments will make very little difference in the short term. Of course, I do wonder if the Italian clubs would be so vociferous if they could sign younger players as UK clubs can....and if Real ever do it we can be sure UEFA will not say a word.

    On another theme, the notion that anyone born in Senegal (and other countries) is 'French'....well, that's handy if you are Platini and doling out the criticisms from the moral high ground, isn't it?!

  • Comment number 20.

    Just to support points 10 and 19.

    Kakuta had a pre-contract agreement. Bostock went because of the same issue, Frank Nouble to west ham and a whole host of others. Doesn't mean the receiving clubs broke the law. On the contrary, it's part of the rules and my understanding is that it was introduced initially to stop clubs "owning" young players and effectively holding to ransom.

    Seems to me that retrospective punishments by trying to use and manipulate existing laws will only bring the game into disrepute. The issue needs addressing, but legally binding, well-considered rules need to be agreed, then applied consistently at al levels, in all leagues.

  • Comment number 21.

    Why dont Fifa introduce there own agents that every european football player and club has to go through. This will stop individual agents asking crazy amounts of commission and also will allow Fifa more control earlier in a transfer then having to spend years investigating. If they have rules that no under 18's etc can't be 'poached' then the Fifa agent will just simply refuse any other team a transfer bid for that particular player. It would also mean that Fifa would have a better grip on over inflated transfers and negotiating clubs act through them - perhaps creating a transfer fee cap ,which would enable more clubs to be competative, which in turn would surely mean better games to watch.

  • Comment number 22.

    I suppose (and hope) that the point Steve is trying to make is that many clubs from lots of footballing nations are trying to lure youngsters by sweetening up their parents. Therefore I don't think it's useful to single out the French for being hypocrites just because a few of their clubs have lodged recent complaints. What about Fiorentina or Crewe?

  • Comment number 23.

    Steve Mandanda Born Congo.
    Patrice Evra Born Senegal.
    Jean-Alain Boumsong Born Cameroon.
    Patrick Viera Born Senegal.
    Rio Mavuba Born Angola.

    This are just the names that appear in national teams. Obviously, many more will appear at the club levels.

  • Comment number 24.

    Sorry guys but maybe I'm just not sure of the facts.

    What I don't get is that if in 2007 while Gael Kakuta was 16 years old, and so was unable to enter into a pro contract at Lens, what contract are Chelsea guilty of making him break? Clearly for this to have run through CAS and for Chelsea to be found guilty means there is more to this.

    Anyway, it strikes me that almost any player would jump at this kind of opportunity (I certainly would have at 16!) and so does this not make a mockery of Blatter's comments last year when he was so upset that C.Ronaldo was being held against his will at Man United? What's it to be Sepp? Slaves or Freedom - it make your mind up time!

    On another topic, watch for FIFA enforcing this 'crime' in a completely inconsistent manner - my guess is that very few French Clubs will get this type of ban when noone can deny that they have persuaded hundreds of Africans to come to France for years. When I speak of FIFA's inconsistency, please take the Eduardo thing for example, clearly he dived vs Celtic last month but how can it be that he gets a 2 game ban when, if the ref had seen it, he would have only got a yellow card. Does this mean that if players have a competent ref then you are more likely to avoid a ban? Players cheat & dive in every game - last night against Scotland Dirk Kuyt was booked for doing what Eduardo tried but he only got a yellow - watch for nothing happening to him with FIFA. No wonder Arsene Wenger is livid. Eduardo should have got a yellow card and the REF should have been banned for 2 games :)



  • Comment number 25.

    When will someone try and depose both Blatter and Platini for advocating that Cristiano Ronaldo be allowed to break his contract to pursue his dream? Kakuta was a 15 year old with a dream...

  • Comment number 26.

    "Anyway, it strikes me that almost any player would jump at this kind of opportunity (I certainly would have at 16!) and so does this not make a mockery of Blatter's comments last year when he was so upset that C.Ronaldo was being held against his will at Man United? What's it to be Sepp? Slaves or Freedom - it make your mind up time!" Chekinmabadself78.

    Exactly.

  • Comment number 27.

    1. At 9:24pm on 09 Sep 2009, Hanney4England wrote:
    Small Fish -> Bigger Fish -> Big Fish

    Sporting Lisbon -> Man United -> Real Madrid

    Real Sociedad -> Liverpool -> Real Madrid

    Monaco -> Arsenal -> Man City

    West Ham -> Man United -> Man City

    Santos -> Real Madrid -> Man City

    ... so are City a big club?

    NO.

  • Comment number 28.

    Sebinjapan

    I believe he was implying that the clubs steal african players to improve their club sides and this is occasionally of benefit to the national side, not that there is a conspiracy by the french fa. And he is right. Just as all the other countries steal players. Look at all the brazilians that are taken young to Germany, Russia and Ukraine...

  • Comment number 29.



    born in Nigeria
    Gabriel Agbonlahor Shola Ameobi Carlton Cole Ugo Ehiogu George Ndah Nedum Onuoha

    Lets not forget Le Tissier and Le Saux Channel Islands

    Owen Hargreaves Canada

    Wow! Amazing players from a former colony who have appeared for England.

    Seems the racists are out in force today. Being black and French is obviously too much for your average Englishman!


  • Comment number 30.

    Steve,

    Predictable, UK media backlash, pandering to the egos of the top 4 fans/customers.

    Why, in truth, most fans of these big clubs think they are untouchable. The UK media's inability to criticise the big clubs.

    In regards to your point, it has so many flaws, it would take an Illiad sized article to cover them.

    In Laymans terms:

    French clubs DO NOT, in general, go over to Africa as you say, and nick players. It's a completely misleading statement.

    Nearly all of the great African/French players, like the Zidanes, Djorkaeffs, Vieras, Thurams, Makalele were either:

    1: Refugees
    2: Born in France to African parents (Zidane, Djorkaeff)
    3: Immigrants who joined French clubs, after family moves years earlier.

    There are millions and millions of African immigrants in France. Nearly all of the players you speak of, were in this bracket when they joined a French club. They weren't "poached". They were immigrants already in the country.

    It's a very false impression you give of the French game, and a media myth.

    All of the great French/African players were either immigrants, or children of immigrants.


    Let's have a run down. English team, historically poached players from smaller English clubs. So they didn't have to spend so much money on academies.

    THe FA basicall outlawed this.

    So they started going abroad, and doing the same thing, outside of the FA juristriction.

    They go to French clubs, who have been spending huge amounts of money developing players, and offer their parens huge amounts of money to move their child to England.

    The French club get nothing. The English club get an 80% developed academy player without spending anything.

    If you, or any top 4 fans think there is anything acceptable with this. Then I wonder how egotistical the English game has got............

    Can I explain. These children are members of academies. Where the club spends huge amounts of money developing their talents. Not only in training costs, but food, accomodation.

    Bringing up restriction of trade is a none factor. If any company spends huge amounts of money on this sort of thing (food, housing, accomodation), you won't just be allowed to walk out and join another company.

    They'll either make you pay it back (the army and the air force), the company pay it (compensation), or they'll withhold your company registration (gardening leave).

    Let's be honest. The big clubs stay at the top, by screwing over mid sized clubs. The only reason fans think it's unfair, as a lot of their dominance is based on this sort of cheating

  • Comment number 31.

    The point is not that we are criticising the French national team for bringing players originating from Africa - clearly loads of countries now do it including England, Germany and even Italy.

    My issue is the total hypocrisy from the French Clubs who have brought young Africans for years but yet are upset when it happens to them.

    By the way, 4 of those 6 players listed in point #29 were actually born in England : )


  • Comment number 32.

    Smaller clubs need to bind the kids so they can sell when the kids grow up. They make reasonable money this way. Academies are not necessarily viewed only as a place where you shape your future team, but as a place run for profit, profit that would come when you sell the players that would have been grown there.

    Any decisions that FIFA is trying to make here is blighted by the fact that no-one actually cares about what the kids want. So, the kid doesn´t WANT to go to Chelsea, but he has to, because his club SELLS him for big money, so he has to move... no, wait, the kid WANTS to go, but his club actually wants to keep him, until they have cashed up on him.

    No higher moral ground. No-one speaks for the young. It´s about money and profits, smaller clubs v bigger clubs, but not about human rights.

  • Comment number 33.

    Just on the subject of signing for teams before you are 18, a boy I know is 15 and he told me he had just signed professional contracts but of course he isn't old enough, then he explained to me that he signed an agreement so that when he is old enough he has to sign professionally with said team. Anyone else think this is a bit wrong.

  • Comment number 34.

    "Anyway, it strikes me that almost any player would jump at this kind of opportunity (I certainly would have at 16!) and so does this not make a mockery of Blatter's comments last year when he was so upset that C.Ronaldo was being held against his will at Man United? What's it to be Sepp? Slaves or Freedom - it make your mind up time!" Chekinmabadself78.


    I completely agree!!

    Blatter and Platini seem to twist their opinions depending on who they want to argue with,their like politicians, if labour say one thing the tories say another regardless of what they believe and in this case it seems English clubs are the opposition party

  • Comment number 35.

    When I saw the headline, I thought there might be some facts in this column, regarding the French clubs who have complained to FIFA about English clubs breaking their young players' pre-contact agreements, perhaps doing something similar themselves.

    But no, just sweeping, irrelevant generalisations about the French.

    Chelsea have been accused of a very specific contravention of contract law. The situation that has created this problem is that the age at which players can first sign professional contracts in Britain is lower that France, Italy and other countries. To say they're just a bigger fish is to wilfully miss the point.

    Accusing the French (because they're all one homogenous mass, are they?) of being hypocrites because players born in their colonies play in France and in the national team (who ever heard of such a thing?) beggars belief. And it's not even relevant to what Chelsea are being investigated for.

    Of course, any club that has done the same thing, from whatever country, should face the same scrutiny (and Chelsea aren't the first: others have, for the same thing, in other countries - as David Conn's excellent article on the Guardian website pointed out back when this was Hot News), but let's try to stick to facts, rather than dedicating a BBC column to "I don't know, but some French clubs - although not necessarily the ones involved in this story - might or might not have done something morally dubious that I can almost make relevant to what Chelsea are accused of."

  • Comment number 36.

    I think far too much is being read into what Steve has said as, in general, the points are valid.

    “Are these clubs completely satisfied that no young player has ever been swayed…” is a fair point, it’s the same with the Uniteds, Arsenals and Liverpools, he only mentions the French as they are the ones pointing the finger at the moment.

    “One of French football's greatest achievements over the last decade has been to integrate players born outside France into their national team”. At what point does he say “illegally poached players”?? It is an achievement, and just because there is a small number, doesn’t make the point invalid. If someone said a success was “the appointment of non-English managers to the National team”, does it make it any less valid just because there have only been two?

    I think the point is that the problem of player “poaching” has been going on for years on a more wide-spread scale than one French kid and Chelsea and that the French clubs are in danger of throwing rocks in glass houses!

  • Comment number 37.

    30. At 10:43am on 10 Sep 2009, Mike_Naylor wrote:
    Can I explain. These children are members of academies. Where the club spends huge amounts of money developing their talents. Not only in training costs, but food, accomodation.

    Bringing up restriction of trade is a none factor. If any company spends huge amounts of money on this sort of thing (food, housing, accomodation), you won't just be allowed to walk out and join another company.

    They'll either make you pay it back (the army and the air force), the company pay it (compensation), or they'll withhold your company registration (gardening leave).

    Let's be honest. The big clubs stay at the top, by screwing over mid sized clubs. The only reason fans think it's unfair, as a lot of their dominance is based on this sort of cheating
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------

    But Mike- where is the morality in holding 14-16 year olds to binding contracts?

    They should be able to sign for whichever club they like.

    That's what happened in this country with talented prospects- many of the good young players trained at various clubs. Ryan Giggs trained at Man City, for example as a teenager. It didn't mean City owned him. Just because a club gave you an opportunity in an Academy should not mean you are obliged to sign a professional contract with them. That's the crux of this issue- and as someone else has pointed out, it's not about clubs taking a moral high ground- clubs such as Le Havre and Lens are unhappy about missing out on the multi-million pound transfer fee they might get from Man Utd or Chelsea if the player moves when he is 19 or 20, rather than 16. Sure, the big clubs are trying to scout talent on the cheap but that's the name of the game in football!

  • Comment number 38.

    Eduardo: Born in Brazil
    Podolski: Born in Poland
    Evra: Senegal

    We seem to be overly patriotic in the UK- perhaps a symptom of being a country of provinces.

    Imagine if Ryan Giggs' dad had said "you know what Ryan, play for England"- We'd've had a left winger for the past 15 years.

  • Comment number 39.

    26. At 10:06am on 10 Sep 2009, shaleen778 wrote:
    "Anyway, it strikes me that almost any player would jump at this kind of opportunity (I certainly would have at 16!) and so does this not make a mockery of Blatter's comments last year when he was so upset that C.Ronaldo was being held against his will at Man United? What's it to be Sepp? Slaves or Freedom - it make your mind up time!" Chekinmabadself78.

    Exactly.


    Err, not really. Ronaldo has stated from a very young age that he wanted to play for Madrid. When has Kakuta ever said Chelsea was his dream move? Did Ronaldo break a contract to move? That's the difference. No-one from FIFA has actually said that Kakuta shouldn't be able to move, just that the manner is illegal.

  • Comment number 40.

    39. Born_Again,

    With regards to contracts, Ronaldo poaching seems even more horrible because Kakuta didn't even have a contract. And players are no inmates but are employees who no matter how young or old have to respect their contract. And if you ask Kakuta, I guess he would love to be in a Chelsea shirt rather than at Lens.

  • Comment number 41.

    I actually find your argument slightly racist. Most of these countires you have mentioned are French colonies, does this mean that Harry Kewell, Gary Kelly, Ian Harte etc were unfairly plucked from their junior clubs. No, it was a better move for all involved, and the clubs were compensated in terms of fees. Maybe overall fees should just be set in stone with each move based on achievements. Would this stop the bickering?

  • Comment number 42.

    Would it be wrong to just thrown in there that its the French's problem if they can't sign players to a contract until they're 18? I guess that's the side effect of having a workshy populace.

  • Comment number 43.

    This article is very poor. Steve Wilson is making some wrong statements and he should check his facts.
    If a lot of French National team player are black or of foreign origins, this just shows that France has a multicultural society. Most of those players were born in France (Heny, Anelka, Zidane, Benzema, Nasri etc...).
    Steve Wilson would like us to believe that the main reason french team are "importing "talent from Africa is to strengthen their National team, what a lot of rubbish.
    Also what is the link between the France team and Chelsea being punished ? Absolute non sense. Yes Benzema, Ronaldo, Kaka went to bigger fish, but the small fish got loads of money in return. Lens had Kakuta in their academy for 5 years, nurturing, lodging and feeeding him and they got...nothing !

  • Comment number 44.

    Genesisred's comment is nothing but stupid ignorant bigotry. Would he be allowed to post the same idea about black people, the Chinese or Mexicans? Then again it goes well with the tone of the stupid article which seems to be " how can those bloody foreigners accuse us English of bad behaviour". Cretinous small-minded comment to go with a cretinous small-minded article. Just so Steve knows, black does not equal non-French.

  • Comment number 45.

    The thing I don't really understand is how players have to be a certain age before they can sign a professional contract, yet they can have an agreement which basically says that they have to sign the contract when they reach a certain age.

  • Comment number 46.

    Just heard some quotes regarding this from plattini/blatter, comparing it to 'child slavery', this is more evidence of the anti-English attitude at UEFA/FIFA. If an english club wants to keep a player and hold them to contract, it amounts to 'slavery' (eg Ronaldo). But if a french club want to keep a young player from going to an English club, it is the english club who are guilty of 'child slavery'. both Blatter and Plattini might as well come out and admit they hate the english.

  • Comment number 47.

    therazor10

    they got offered around a £1 million pound in compensation which they rejected, now they have been awarded £160 grand by FIFA...

    not to mention the fact that he had no contract, just an illegal pre-contract that was signed by his mother.

    also you say just because he was in academy for 5 years - they should get a compensation - the according to your logic, his parents nurtured him for 16 years - they should get a payment to help them out?

  • Comment number 48.

    The Ronaldo comparison is worse than spurious. United got about £80m for him.

  • Comment number 49.

    Your silence speaks wonders steve. I cannot help but think that another blogger may have explained his reasoning at this point

  • Comment number 50.

    "On another theme, the notion that anyone born in Senegal (and other countries) is 'French'...."

    is surely as valid as someone born in a former British colony being 'English'. Someone like John Barnes, who was born in Jamaica.

    This blog is truly appalling.

    "I see the a French side has complained that an English team has poached one of their young players. There are lots of Africans playing football in France. They're probably all be stolen from African clubs. I have produced no facts or statistics whatsoever to support this. But its probably true. So what are the French moaning about?"

    I know this, as a blog, is only one man's opinion, but as a journalist working for the BBC I would expect Steve Wilson to be savvy enough to do even the most basic research to make this sound just a little less xenophobic and inflammatory.

  • Comment number 51.

    Oh great,

    For weeks we've had numpties on these blogs and 606 using the argument "others do it so why should we be punished" which has absolutely no merit at all.

    Now BBC "journalists" are using the same argument.

    Pathetic.

  • Comment number 52.

    23. At 09:47am on 10 Sep 2009, shaleen778 wrote:
    Steve Mandanda Born Congo.
    Patrice Evra Born Senegal.
    Jean-Alain Boumsong Born Cameroon.
    Patrick Viera Born Senegal.
    Rio Mavuba Born Angola.

    This are just the names that appear in national teams. Obviously, many more will appear at the club levels.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Are you comparing naturalisation to poaching(child trafficking)? Once again we the English are trying to blame the victims.

  • Comment number 53.

    I think people are making the mistake of only talking about the french national team. The problem that is being discussed is at club level. I am from Senegal and I can tell you french teams that do just this. Some are FC Metz, AS St-Etienne, Monaco among others. They have "partnerships" that will consists only of buying young players (14 thru 19) with so-called football academies that play no club football but only deal with selling potentiel talents abroad.
    The french have been known to naturalize foreign born players mainly to be able to sell them quicker to other teams in the EU. A few have been naturalized to play for the youth teams. Three senegalese players, I know for sure, Mouhamadou Dabo most recently and back in the days Omar Dieng and Samba Ndiaye. I remember Platini saying when he was coach of the French team: " Je prefere griller un joueurs africain que de laisser passer un talent".
    This said, no one sees a problem with players of african descent choosing their countries of birth to play for (no one is mad at Evra or Vieira), however, with some of the best young african players moving to Europe at ever younger ages. There is a real potentiel of african football suffering (even if some of the more so-so talented foreign born player sometimes will come and play for us - We are never there first choice). Just remember the ridiculous case of Salomon Kalou, who could not even speak deutch and had no ties to the country, yet persisted in trying to play for netherlands. It like Messi playing for Spain or Pato playing for Italy, just because they move there at a young age.

  • Comment number 54.

    Markrp I think you missed my point, I wasn't trying to make a comparison between ronaldo and the french youngsters. I was just making the point that FIFA and UEFA will jump on any contraversy involving english clubs, and Blatter and Platini seemingly can't wait to wade and give their (often personal not just the govening bodies official) opinion. eg. they have both roundly critised the huge spending and debt of English clubs but have you heard any criticism of Real Madrid. may be slightly of subject but I felt it needed saying

  • Comment number 55.

    What utter garbage ----- I know it's only a "blog", but supposedly from a bbc journalist !!!!

    Utter lack of facts or reasoned argument, which basically just re-iterates what the big 4 feel --- it's ok because everyone does it......

    And for the borderline racism --- just because someone has a "tan" and plays for france, he must have been born abroad --- what a load of old pony ....

  • Comment number 56.

    38. At 11:50am on 10 Sep 2009, 1ronjaw wrote:

    "Imagine if Ryan Giggs' dad had said "you know what Ryan, play for England"- We'd've had a left winger for the past 15 years."

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------

    His Dad would have been better off telling him to play for Brazil or France. At least he would have won something then.

  • Comment number 57.

    French Academies are as full of foreigners as the English system is, many french clubs also have development links with African clubs. Players ARE imported from other coutnries there just liek they are into England.

    The ONLY issue at stake should be whethr the lad broke a contract or not.

    For me if he did then FIFA/UEFA should not have ratified the deal and they should send the kid back to fulfil his deal. If he did not have a contract then he is free to leave as he sees fit and Chelsea will be made to pay compensation as per any other deal.

    Were his parents offered inducements? Was he? who cares I say.

    Inducements/bribes can also be called payment, EVERY player asks for payment when he moves, most senior players get big signing on fees so why should this kid not get the same?

  • Comment number 58.

    born in Nigeria
    Gabriel Agbonlahor Shola Ameobi Carlton Cole Ugo Ehiogu George Ndah Nedum Onuoha

    Lets not forget Le Tissier and Le Saux Channel Islands

    Owen Hargreaves Canada

    Wow! Amazing players from a former colony who have appeared for England.

    Seems the racists are out in force today. Being black and French is obviously too much for your average Englishman!


    --------------------------------------------------------------

    Hargreaves has two English born parents therefore qualifys for England.

    Gabriel Agbonlahor born Erdington, England (One of his parents is scottish)
    Carlton Cole born Croydon, England
    Ugo Ehiogu born London, england
    George Ndah born Camberwell, England

    Onuoha and Ameobi both born in Nigera but moved over here at a young age.



    and how can you claim racism when people are also talking about Zidane as well, to my knowledge he isn't black.

    stop trying to catch people out for "racism" when they aren't being racist.

  • Comment number 59.

    "and how can you claim racism when people are also talking about Zidane as well, to my knowledge he isn't black."

    And, to my knowledge, there are more than 2 races on the earth (black & white). You don't have to be talking about a black person to be racist.

  • Comment number 60.

    #29

    Hey mate, your "average Englishman" is not racist, and we know all about having black players play for the national team, that argument was over 30 years ago!! What is your point?

    By the way, Agbonlahor, Cole, Ehiogu, Ndah - born in England. And all those players you mention came through English youth teams, except Hargreaves. In fact, Agbonlahor could have played for Scotland, never mind Nigeria! You missed the point by a mile. Let's talk about Ireland under Jack Charlton, or the English Cricket team, or Colin Kazim Richards, or Greg Rusedski, or Russell Crowe. On second thoughts, let's not.

    *******************

  • Comment number 61.

    Think the point of this article was meant to be that French clubs routinely take African players to France. The fact some of them end up playing for France is an extreme example of a widespread practice.

    I totally agree with this article. Let's not blur the issue by talking about racism and FIFA's "grandparent" rule for national team eligibility.

    Youse are all talking dumb.

  • Comment number 62.

    Ralphonzo1, while I agree that Real Madrid deserve as much scrutiny for shameless spending on obscene borrowing as Chelsea and Man Utd, it is completely irrelevant to this article.

    Chelsea are not being picked on by UEFA in this case. UEFA are responding to allegations by Lens that Chelsea broke a pre-contract agreement with their player. Other clubs in other countries have been punished under this rule before.

    A few other people mentioned Ronaldo's transfer too, but I don't see how it has any relevance whatsoever to this column. Okay, Man Utd may have rather kept him, but £80million!?

  • Comment number 63.

    Yes, African players end up in France. As well as the many French players of African heritage.

    But it doesn't alter the fact that Chelsea broke the rules that protect small and medium-sized clubs' investments in their youth acadamies.

    And nothing on here provides any indication that Lens, or anyone else in France, is doing the same thing.

  • Comment number 64.

    Sorry, Chelsea are being investigated for breaking the rules...

  • Comment number 65.

    Steve, very dissapointing. Could have thought this was from the Daily Mail and not the BBC. If there is any such "poaching" by French club sides as you imply, some examples and evidence would have been welcome. If none exist, an apology for lazy journalism would be a nice touch.

    Millions of families migrate to France as well as other countries, surely the sons of such families can start playing football at local club sides without suggestions of poaching and tapping ups. Some may even end up representing their new homelands. I see nothing wrong with that. Are you against this, Steve?

    And why single out the French? What about the likes of Lukas Podolski appearing for Germany and Shefki Kuqi for Finland etc. etc.

  • Comment number 66.

    #50 - I wasn't being racist, nor am I. The main thrust of my post was in relation to the existence and validity (or otherwise) of 'youth contracts.

    John Barnes was born in Jamaica, yes, but I would imagine (hope, for the sake of my argument!) that he had an English parent as I am not aware of the England football team using the more spurious routes to 'naturalisation' that some countries take advantage of. That said, as I understand he and his family migrated to the UK when he was a small boy, I would also imagine that he was a UK citizen before he began to shine at football...but that is pure speculation.

    I do not know what facts or fiction are in the original blog post.

    The point I was making was in response to an earlier post saying that those born in Senegal (etc) were 'born on French territory and therefore are French'. When Senegal (etc) have their own teams that claim seems to be a little convenient, wouldn't you agree?

    Before anyone else asserts that i might not know it, I am perfectly aware that there are Englishmen, Scottish, Welsh and, oh yes, French of all shades and that colour does not denote nationality. The point is, country of birth usually does.

  • Comment number 67.

    I see Ferguson claims United never pay parents to get their kids to sign. Isn't this what the FA fined United £200,000 for 18 years ago in the cases of two lads on schoolboy forms with London clubs. Their names were Beckham and Wicks (son of the ex-Arsenal and Leicester defender). A lady from Swinton with sons named Ryan and Rhodri did nicely too.

  • Comment number 68.

    malwhereartthou

    I'm sorry if I've upset you but as my friend Mr. Rafa would say, "these are all nothing but facts".

    I was careful to do a bit of research on the topic, just to make sure I didn't make a fool out of myself and I don't think I have.

    As to your ctritisism of my assertion of "nicking all the best players in Africa", Steve points out "One of French football's greatest achievements over the last decade has been to integrate players born outside France into their national team." Now forgive me if I'm wrong but that sounds pretty politically correct for "nicking all the best players in Africa". He even continues in the paragraph under the picture claiming in exchange for cash these players will "take French citizenship.

    You also mention Drogba, Essien and Bassong. Good choice, they are all African players who play for African national teams repectivley and who came through French clubs. However, by this you clearly have not done any research on the matter: Bassong was born and raised in Paris and graduated through the French football academy system in Clairfontaine. Drogba was born in the Ivory Coast, granted, but he first moved to France at the age of 5-8 and returned at the age of 15. Drogba never even played for a youth team in the Ivory Coast... Essien however, I grant to you, was born and raised in Ghana and was spoted by European scouts.

    Also, I can assure you that I did not seek out to find any "answers" you speak of... again I quote myself writing "Just to clarify" which, to me, doesn't sound like any form of oppinion pressing, it's just the facts. You seem to believe all you read so long as it's from a senior editor and this is your fault. I am part French so, of course, I will have a slight bias view on this but with my French identity I follow the French league and have contacts in France whome I can discuss these issues with thus giving me the right to say that I provably have a better idea of French football as a whole than you - not that I'm an expert of course, my beloved club is my passion.

    It would simply seem as though the French are better at breeding talented footballers than the English for if that was not the case then why bother signing these "prodigies" so early? But there is still no reason to cry about it... try to open your mind rather than blame the French, thats a bit of an old fashioned aproach these days.

  • Comment number 69.

    There is one big moral problem here - Is it right that a young 15 or 16 year old at a good club in France, Spain or Italy can be uprooted and moved to a different country?

    Let's not be naive here. How are these children (and lets not forget that's what they are - Children) and their parents moved across to England if there's no monetary incentives involved? Parents are given jobs, they're provided with houses which i'm sure the clubs say is rented to them through their job at the club etc. We're not stupid. 15 & 16 year olds & their families don't just up and move to another country unless it's financially possible to do so. It's unethical and morally wrong to do this when you consider the majority wont make the grade at a club like Chelsea, Man Utd or Liverpool.

    Also, can these clubs really say that the players develop better in their youth and reserve teams rather than playing first team football in the French league or Belgian league at the age of 17 or 18? The clubs would say they get a better, more expert education at a bigger club, but can anyone prove that's better than first team football in a lower level league? Also, this argument falls flat when a player is taken from Barcelona, Fiorentina or Lyon etc. These are top clubs in their own right!

    The fact is there needs to be an 18 year old rule for taking a player from a different country. There's no professional reason or ethical reason to take them earlier, other than to save the likes of Chelsea, Utd etc millions in transfer fees. Lets not pretend this practise is motivated by anything different!

    The piece mentions French clubs harvesting Africa, but I think this is different. FIFA needs to identify leagues that are exempt from the 18 year old rule, so that it doesn't stunt a players development. A top 15 year old in a small African nation, or a small island population for example clearly may be the exception to the rule, and would need to get access to better coaching and opposition, but there is no reason a young player would need to leave the French, Italian, German or Spanish leagues for example in order to better develop, because those countries and their clubs are providing a high enough standard.

    Let players move in their own country before 18 years old, but not before unless their individual case shows they can't benefit or progress from staying in their own country.

    What do we think? Surely it makes sense?

  • Comment number 70.

    It's completely ridiculous to use players such as Patrick Viera and Evra as examples of africans supposedly 'trawled' for by the French footballing powers. Both these examples moved to France as young children with their families, and as far as I'm aware not for anything remotely connected to footballing reasons.

    All these people that moan about such things are quite happy for Laura Robson, Greg Rusedski, Andrew Caddick, Kevin Pieterson et al to represent blighty at their respective sports...particularly when they look like winning. How far do you take the arguement? You could include Andy Murray, when all the bigots suddenly forget Scotland is a different country...once a 'dour Scot' way down the rankings, as World no. 2 he suddenly becomes a 'British' player.

    Also Defoe, Heskey, Carlton/Ashley Cole, Rio Ferdinand etc etc are obviously foreign and must have been tapped up by someone cos they're all black. YES, YES, that last statement was complete and utter horsedung, and just meant as an example of other similar posts on this blog!

  • Comment number 71.

    I have read all the comments with interest and I'm mortified to think that the blog could be construed as racist.

    At no point was I suggesting that being black meant you could not be French or English or any other nationality.

    I'm sorry if anyone took offence, but it was a blog about the way the movement of players works. Players want to gravitate up if they can and all clubs take advantage of that if they can.

  • Comment number 72.

    29. At 10:42am on 10 Sep 2009, dmrichkt wrote:


    born in Nigeria
    Gabriel Agbonlahor Shola Ameobi Carlton Cole Ugo Ehiogu George Ndah Nedum Onuoha
    Lets not forget Le Tissier and Le Saux Channel Islands
    Owen Hargreaves Canada
    Wow! Amazing players from a former colony who have appeared for England.
    Seems the racists are out in force today. Being black and French is obviously too much for your average Englishman!

    ==
    You are crazy, isn't it? Tell me.
    Like you would defend the likes of Vieira, Zidane, etc, so this applies to Agbonlahor & Cia.
    As for Le Saux and Le Tissier, you simply does not know Geagraphy, isn't it? Have you not realised that the Channel Islands DO BELONG to UK? Where have you been all these years.

    As for Owen Hargreaves, face it: when he was well above age he DECIDED himself to represent England and had the right to do so having an English Family!!! No tapping up, no poaching, just a Bayern Munich player deciding his career himself and with NO money exchanging hands for that.

    I believe that French people are very inteligent. Too inteligent to comit these mistakes and to call english racists on these occasions.

    Now, let's forget the Internationl level because it is proven that no country really takes the benefit on this area any longer and there's no financial costs involved in defending this or that team (Drogba still defends Ivory Coast and Kanute prefers to defend Mali rather than England or France. Just to mention some examples).

    Let's face it as it was originally mentioned on the blog and also on the responses: France Clubs DO PLY their trade in bringing young africans for footballing reasons. Not all african originated footballers are brought this way but several actually ARE! No discussion.

    What England do in regards to europe, France does to Africa and Spain does to Latin America and Germany and Italy are not exceptions.

    Rather than say this or that is racist, let's grow up and face that everyone does this because there's clearly a loophole in the law (contract against freedom of move) a grey area on dealing with youngsters (holding up them to contract against their will = slavery; giving them money to move = slavery trade).

    Also, let's face it: if you are in place of any of those players, plying your trade in exchange of some little financial help and no future to play on big leagues and some club comes for you, would you say no? If your family is on hardship and suddenly your talent can guarantee not only progress in your career but also stability for your family, would you refuse it?

    Everyone wants to play in the Champions League and star for their national side. Some will find it easier moving to this or that club.

    Want to stop: make laws about it. At the moment there are none. But if this happens, I wonder if clubs like Le Havre, Lens, Crewe and other small clubs throughout Europe and in the World will survive when they cannot command a fee for selling them on.

    Also, what will happen to them is that youngsters, seeing that if they attach themselves with these clubs they will be held against their will, considering that the chances of, for example, Lens to lift the Champions League or Crewe to Lift the Championship (forget the Premiership...), are soo slim, they may as well refuse to train with them starving these clubs on talent prefering to queue on the big academies rather than root on lower divisions.

    Think about




    Complain about this comment

  • Comment number 73.

    At 9:51pm on 10 Sep 2009, Roberto_Mexicano wrote:
    there is no reason a young player would need to leave the French, Italian, German or Spanish leagues for example in order to better develop, because those countries and their clubs are providing a high enough standard.
    ==
    I am sorry but your are absolutelly wrong. How can you guarantee that a youngster do receives good quality training and facilities on a big club in France, Germany, etc enough for him not to move?
    I know that Lyon may offer good opportunity but the rule on this case is simple: Sometimes, for as good as it gets, what is offered is NOT what you value. Simple as that.
    Loads of players "work out" with this or taht club, with this or that coach, with this or that conditions. Normal.
    If you prevent these to move away to find better opportunity, you are restraining their freedom to find what they feel it is better for them. Same values for their respective families. It is easier for us (and I include myself) to sit on our computers and laptops and write about it but when you are on the thick of it, what would you do?

    Even in England this happens. Take a look at what Dario Gradi from Crewe Alexandra said in regards to an approach of one of their youngsters with not contract but training there. The big club comes and offer good money and allowances. We only offer GBP 20.00 and some help in coming to the ground to train. What do you say? Easy for me, that really simpathize with Crewe (I lived there for 2 years and used to go to the Stadium) to say it is wrong but, looking into the players perspective, having a good prospect to play in the bigger leagues, a good house and confort is exactly what I would want. If someone offers me this, why not move?

    Contracts are not in place at this age since they do restrain trade and at this age, contract s are real slavery shackles. If you are losing your teenagers is not because other clubs are big: it is only because they are offering better conditions. You must ry to offer either the same or a more alternative way and atractive to these youngsters for them to stay.

    Le Havre is not prevented to try to poach English players from, let's say Manchester United. Why they do not do it? Moral? No way. It is simply because they do not have anything to offer.

    You work. You got a qualification and experience to do your work and are attached to a contract. Let's face it, you work and I do the same for 40% passion and 60% cash (unless you do voluntary work...). If someones turns up, likes you and what you do and offers you a job opportunity to earn more, more benefits and allowances and opprotunity to grow and enjoy what you do in a higher level, would you say no?

    Lots of those players that move are the same. They may receive benefits but who knows, apart from them, which kind of life and opportunities do their families and them have outside the game? What's wrong if they can do better?

    Why you and I can and they cannot? Because they are footballers?

    You may not agree with this but this is the way that Europe works their laws and CAS, FIFA and UEFA MUST obbey it.

    Like it or not.

  • Comment number 74.

    Yes. All big clubs in Europe has ever signed a player by persuading their parents. Is that fair? Well, I think just like you, Steve - it's life, where the big fish eats the small one.

    http://spanishlaliga.wordpress.com/

  • Comment number 75.

    As a journalistic piece this is shoddy. You have done zero research and you have contributed to a load of jingoistic nonsense on the part of those who don't even know why Chelsea, Man Utd, City, and Liverpool are being investigated.
    If you throw enough mud it sticks. Why did you pick the French? Why not the Dutch? I am pretty sure some Cricket Players for England are not white...how could that be? Where they dragged from India or Pakistan to play in England? It's utter nonsense what you are attempting to suggest, and bordering on the racist. That being said, IF anyone is being forced or coerced by inducements to make or break contracts then the punishment should be the same as for Chelsea. The issue that you want to look at is the near ressurection of Slavery albeit for millions, by hiring people who have little idea of what they are getting into or agreeing. I am dissappointed this sort of writing is allowed to be published, Probably is only a beer nothing more. Get some proof, some names and come back to us. There might be even something more sinister than you suggest, but we won't find out through mud slinging.

  • Comment number 76.

    52. At 3:12pm on 10 Sep 2009, askido351 wrote:
    23. At 09:47am on 10 Sep 2009, shaleen778 wrote:
    Steve Mandanda Born Congo.
    Patrice Evra Born Senegal.
    Jean-Alain Boumsong Born Cameroon.
    Patrick Viera Born Senegal.
    Rio Mavuba Born Angola.

    This are just the names that appear in national teams. Obviously, many more will appear at the club levels.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Are you comparing naturalisation to poaching(child trafficking)? Once again we the English are trying to blame the victims.

    ................................................................................

    No I am not. People "naturalise" because they are in search of better opportunities. Its the same with the players and the clubs.

    And BTW please stop these accusations regarding racism here. It is a good debate going around and please don't mar it with such disgusting claims.

  • Comment number 77.

    Just because I happen to still have it on my PC - here are the 22 names from Senegal's squad for the 2002 African Nations Cup in Mali, along with the clubs were playing for at the time:

    Tony Sylva (Monaco) Omar Diallo (Khougiba) Omar Daf (Sochaux) Ferdinand Coly (Lens) Habib Beye (Strasbourg) Aliou Cisse (Montpellier) Pape Malick Diop (Neuchtel Xamax) Makhtar Ndiaye (Rennes) Alasanne N'dour (St Ettienne) Khalilou Fadiga (Auxerre) Pape Sarr (Lens) Salif Diao (Sedan) Moussa Ndiaye (Sedan) Amdy Faye (Auxerre) Pape Bouba Diop (Lens) Henri Camara (Sedan) Pape Thiaw (Lausanne) Amara Traore (Gueugnon) Souleymane Camara (Monaco)Sylvain Ndaiye (Lille) Lamine Diatta (Rennes) El Hadji Diuof (Lens).

  • Comment number 78.

    70. At 10:05pm on 10 Sep 2009, ramrodewe wrote:
    You could include Andy Murray, when all the bigots suddenly forget Scotland is a different country...once a 'dour Scot' way down the rankings, as World no. 2 he suddenly becomes a 'British' player.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------

    Check your facts, Scotland is part of Britain, just as England, Wales and Northern Ireland are.

    Just to clarify, in the olympics and some other sports, England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are represented jointly as Great Britain, in other sports, such as football, they compete seperately.

    So in tennis, it doesn't matter whether you are from London, Cardiff, Belfast or Edinborough, you are still British, not English, Welsh etc.

    Also, try reading the article, this blog wasn't about national teams, it's about club teams.

  • Comment number 79.

    So lots of Senegal's best players play in France (or Switzerland). Are we guessing that they've all been tapped up? Because I still don't see what this has to do with the Gael Kakuta case. Particularly if there's no evidence of Lens acting inappropriately.

    Isn't it completely logical that many Senegalese players will want to play abroad, in a better league in a richer country? And isn't it clear that the ones that will be most able to get a contract in a bigger league are those who are good enough to play for the national side? And isn't it logical that most of them will pick France for linguistic and cultural reasons?

    The Kakuta case is not just a case of a player leaving a medium sized club to go to a big club. Chelsea broke the rules that are designed to protect small and medium sized clubs' investment in their acadamies. The case isn't about the morals of signing child players. It's about big clubs trampling over other clubs' rights. If African clubs accuse French clubs of doing the same, then that is when we can start casting aspersions.

    If French clubs are acting inappropriately by signing child players, that is a different argument, but in no way justifies what Chelsea have done.

  • Comment number 80.

    Steve, I don't think you are a racist nor do I claim that you are a bad journalist, but this particular blog seemed weak - lazy journalism. Rather than jump on the poaching/tap up band wagon, why not debate (and ask the FA and the Premier League to think) the issue why are some other nations better able to incorporate their immigrant populations than the UK. Why is it that the French, German, Scandinavian and other club sides are better at nurturing talent from the immigrant populations in those countries (refugees, sons of economic migrants etc.) than the British ones. A huge pool of talent is not explored and used. And since the club sides are doing so badly at getting kids from the ethnic minorities and immigrant groups to participate, then it's no surprise that you don't see them rise to the national side either. There could be many talented Zlatan Ibrahimovićs and Miroslav Kloses out there on the streets of Britain...

  • Comment number 81.

    79. At 12:10pm on 11 Sep 2009, markrp wrote:

    If African clubs accuse French clubs of doing the same, then that is when we can start casting aspersions.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The problem here being that African clubs neither have the proper infrastructure to retain such youth nor they have the power to complain to FIFA. And Kakuta broke pre-contract with Lens, which isn't even a contract but a promise to sign the contract. Obviously he was promised a better future in Chelsea just as other African youngster get in France.

  • Comment number 82.

    shaleen778, I take your points, but in what way do African clubs not have the power to complain to FIFA? They may not have the resources to lobby them, but they can certainly register an official complaint. And if FIFA ignored them, a quick phone call to World Soccer magazine, for example, would certainly get the ball rolling.

  • Comment number 83.

    In no way is this blog racist. To imply it is, I think, is ludicrous.

    This blog however is full of rubbish. Probably the worst blog i've ever read on BBC Sport. The claims you make Steve cannot be backed up. The French do not go to Africa with the sole intention of taking their best players back to France in order for them to gain French citizenship, thus qualifying to play for the national team. That is total and utter rubbish.

  • Comment number 84.

    38 - Ryan Giggs was not eligible to play for England.

    29 - The Channel Islands are not a British colony. If anything, it was the other way round.

    72 - the Channel Islands do not belong to the UK.

  • Comment number 85.

    Wow, all those senegalese players playing for french teams, in leagues better than their own. 2002, same world cup:


    1 GK Shay Given Newcastle United
    2 DF Steve Finnan Fulham
    3 DF Ian Harte Leeds United
    4 DF Kenny Cunningham Wimbledon
    5 DF Steve Staunton Aston Villa
    6 MF Roy Keane Manchester United
    7 MF Jason McAteer Sunderland
    8 MF Matt Holland Ipswich Town
    9 FW Damien Duff Blackburn Rovers
    10 FW Robbie Keane Leeds United
    11 MF Kevin Kilbane Sunderland
    12 MF Mark Kinsella Charlton Athletic
    13 FW David Connolly Wimbledon
    14 DF Gary Breen Coventry City
    15 DF Richard Dunne Manchester City
    16 GK Dean Kiely Charlton Athletic
    17 FW Niall Quinn Sunderland
    18 DF Gary Kelly Leeds United
    19 FW Clinton Morrison Crystal Palace
    20 DF Andrew O'Brien Newcastle United
    21 FW Steven Reid Millwall
    22 MF Lee Carsley 28 February Everton
    23 GK Alan Kelly Blackburn Rovers

  • Comment number 86.

    Jomar777

    Your argument seems to consist solely of the idea that if you are offered more money, you have to go. That should not be the case for a 15 or 16 year old boy.

    As I said (and you did nothing to disprove), how can it be proven that playing first team football in the French, or say Belgian league at 17 or 18 is less of a developmental benefit that playing for Man Utd's academy or reserve team, where clearly, the players may have better facilities, perhaps better coaching, but they will certainly not be tested as much as playing first team football in a decent European league.

    Also, (again you chose not to comment on this) when players are taken from a Barcelona or a Fiorentina or a Roma how can you say they are going to better facilities, better coaching or a better standard of football? You can't, because they aren't. Clearly the only thing that could get them there is a better financial package for the short term benefit of the boy's family.

    The one and only reason that this practise of signing minors takes place is because the big European clubs are getting at them before they command a big transfer fee. Nothing more. If FIFA imposed a rule that if you signed a minor who became a first team squad regular you had to continue paying compensation based on his value as an 18, 19 or 20 year old this imoral practice would stop dead. Fact.

    Don't pretend this goes on for any reason other than the financial benefit of the clubs, and the players in question.

    Glad I could help you understand this better Jomar777 anyway. You let me know if there's anything else you need advice on Ok?

  • Comment number 87.

    I don't understand the hypocrisy of 'pre-contracts'. I was under the impression that pre-contracts are not contracts, therefore technically, they cannot be 'broken'. In any case a tribunal decids what the compensation fee should be for 'breaking' the 'pre-contract'. In the Kakuta case, I believe they have now been awarded around £150k, plus the player/club has been fined.

    Surely a 'pre-contract' cannot be legally binding as it is illegal for young players to sign any contract before they are of age. In which case it is entirely at the governing body's (French FA, UEFA, FIFA) discretion to control and manage these transfers by deciding on appropriate compensation payments for a players development?

    So lets say a Premier League cluib wants a French club's 15 year old. They are prepared to make this financially viable. The French club do not want to release the player, but the player would like to move. The French club have no right to hold a non-contracted player against his will. Therefore it is up to the relevant body to decide the compensation fee. Both clubs then have to like it or lump it. £160k is not enough, but as a previous poster noted, the initial £1m offered is a realistic fee.

    Anyway, I have a contract at work, but if I get offered more money elsewhere to do the same job I am damn well going to move. If the offer is attractive enough (most likely financially) I'll move to Timbuktu, or Hull if I have to. These players do not have contracts, so when the move is made viable (econmically and/or for career reasons) then they have every right to go for it.

    Be it from Senegal to France, or from France to the UK.

    (Apologies for the excessive use of inverted commas.)

  • Comment number 88.

    The first posting of this article made me laugh. The guy seems to not notice the difference between players signing for Man City from big clubs because the big clubs wanted to get rid of them (e.g. Adebayor and Robinho) and players like Ronaldo leaving a big club against that club's will to sign for a fellow big club. Just because a player comes from a big club, it doesn't make the club he joins big. Man City would be a big club if they'd actually managed to land any of their publicised targets such as Eto'o, Ronaldinho, Kaka, Terry and Buffon. Not to worry though, they did manage to sign a money loving Brazilian who thought he had signed for Chelsea in his unveiling interview.

  • Comment number 89.

    UEFA will say or do nothing about French clubs trafficking in young African players. This crusade was started by Platini and is aimed at Premier League clubs and, oh look, Platini is French. Quel surprise!

  • Comment number 90.

    The problem is not about getting young talents from anohter league,it is about being done properly. It has to be established that the French clubs are getting the young African talents illegaly before we can call on UEFA to take action on them. I am happy that Manchester United Officials said that they can defend the cases against United.Big or bigger clubs should be careful and do their transfers properly

  • Comment number 91.

    77. At 11:01am on 11 Sep 2009, Steve Wilson - Match of the Day wrote:

    Just because I happen to still have it on my PC - here are the 22 names from Senegal's squad for the 2002 African Nations Cup in Mali, along with the clubs were playing for at the time:

    Tony Sylva (Monaco) Omar Diallo (Khougiba) Omar Daf (Sochaux) Ferdinand Coly (Lens) Habib Beye (Strasbourg) Aliou Cisse (Montpellier) Pape Malick Diop (Neuchtel Xamax) Makhtar Ndiaye (Rennes) Alasanne N'dour (St Ettienne) Khalilou Fadiga (Auxerre) Pape Sarr (Lens) Salif Diao (Sedan) Moussa Ndiaye (Sedan) Amdy Faye (Auxerre) Pape Bouba Diop (Lens) Henri Camara (Sedan) Pape Thiaw (Lausanne) Amara Traore (Gueugnon) Souleymane Camara (Monaco)Sylvain Ndaiye (Lille) Lamine Diatta (Rennes) El Hadji Diuof (Lens).
    -------------------------------------------------------
    What's your point now? They have done the same as Beckham, and Ronaldo et al followed an economic opportunity. All of these countries you refer to in Africa, are for the most part, ex french colonies. Algeria for who Zidane was eligible to play, didn't take him for some reason or other for their National team. I know a lot of people who were born in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisa and they all work in France because of basic economics. If you go to Monaco you would be hard pressed to find someone born in Monaco who actually works there. The economic rewards are so great people from all over europe work there. So basically to answer your Article, Yes the French are innocent until you can come up with a better argument.
    Liam Brady Frank Stapleton went to England in the 60s or 70s because they could play great football and the Irish economy was dreadful. You have set off a huge can of worms. The real argument and you will find it's why a lot of people think FIFA and UEFA are going after the brits, is the amount of money available in Europe, in Particular the English league while many villages in Africa can't afford basic running water. Tapping up? No, but they should definitely be tapped in. Your ripost sir was mediocre at best..

  • Comment number 92.

    @ #18:
    "These kind of comments are usually made by ignorant people who mix-up skin colour/origin and citizenship/place of birth, not by talented BBC journalists."

    Well said. That pretty much sums up the sweeping ignorance pervading the article (totally lacking in any effort at research or specific examples, as given by #17 & #30, for example) and much of this thread.

  • Comment number 93.

    The overall problem would seem to the legal twilight of anything to do with players under the age of 16. Everyone except Platini and Blatter would benefit from some clarification of the legal statuses involved because as it is the rules seem to be whims of those two.

  • Comment number 94.

    The big issue here is extremely simple:

    Despite the EU apparently being 'a single market', laws in most european countries make it impossible to sign a youngster you have nurtured, as a child of an EU nation, until 12 months after the English can sign them off you. For nothing.

    We can argue to kingdom come about everything else, but that's the one thing that the EU needs to change.

    The second thing which must be audited is the cost to individual clubs of training the youngsters up. From the day they arrive to the day they are 'poached', 'approached by a better club', call it what you will. That's full cost by the way:
    i. Contribution to cost of ground upkeep, indoor gym maintenance etc.
    ii. Contribution to all heating and lighting at the facilities.
    iii Contribution to the rates.
    iv. Cost of the coaches' time.
    v. Contribution to all the training equipment: balls, weights room, monitoring equipment etc etc etc
    vi. Cost for accessing accrued knowledge concerning training regimes - that's a product, so charge for it.
    vii. Costs incurred by national associations in monitoring you, registering you on national training programmes etc etc etc.

    Of course poor youngsters want nice houses etc etc etc. And if they are good enough they will likely get it. Look at Wayne Rooney.

    But perhaps they also owe a debt of responsibility, care and, yes services rendered, to clubs which trained them as children?

    That cost should be rigorously documented and in my judgement, passed on to a club that wishes to sign them for nothing.

    Now if the players produced are rubbish, the clubs will not receive that money back because their juniors will not be signed elsewhere.

    But if they are good, those clubs will reap an appropriate reward. I believe we call it 'performance-related pay'.

    Now what is so terrible about that, eh?

  • Comment number 95.

    its really a poor article.

    im finding it hard not to 'taint all englishmen/women with same brush' but finding it excidingly hard to do so, why? the ignorance.

    this is a BBC repoter who is making a case with not ONE example. how on earth are you getting apid for this lack of research. this topic is void. why do the english always feel they the victims, and why are the majority of football fans in this country so ignorant to football outside their leagues. no clue, they all take ater mr andy gray 'benficaarent good enough for PL' and they go on and KO bth liverpool and man u.

    do you not feel stupid talking about a subject you are so unaware of?

    the reason why so many africans come to france at an early age is same as all indians coming to england. being an ex colony and weathy with more opportunities its natural for many families to leave their home for europe. now then they settle. then thye have a kid. the kid is eligible for the nationality of his country of birth, so the likes of zidane, trezeguet, anelak etc all born in france. so we shouldnt pick them based on their race?

    you starting to realise what your article implied?

    now in the second group, you have a case of players being born in their parents home countries but moving here when they were 4-5 or 6. im thinking thats before they become football players?! and they then decide to adopt nationality. so they are then treated as all other french players. no segregation. no racism. equal rights. hence picked for selection.

    now i suggest you adress the issue of why so many foreign kids in england cant make it in sport. i went to school here, and have my own opinion on the matter.

    finally not a single player changed nationality halfway in his career so he could play for france. now lets have look at those english athletes that changed nationality to help their careers like rusedski, lennox lewis. or how about john barnes? shall i go on.

    i doubt you will the courage, but most importantly the knowledge and proof of your ridiculous article. im annoyed now at your accusations of my country, but im sure i will have a laugh at the stndard of journalism in this country. does it bug you that no matter how great your league is, and it is the best, your journalism, all of it combined do not come close to the respect and identity of France Football magazine? hence the ballon d'or.

    finally for all the sun readers, this is a FIFA decsion not UEFA. head of fifa is Blatter. first country to have a club punished for illegal transfers? sion of switzerland. so stop the cry baby, im a victim attitude. if its proven youve done wrong you should be pnished. if not you shouldnt. understand the logic?

  • Comment number 96.

    I see some of the points raised here are about racism, but I believe Steve's initial point was trying to make was not that the English are innocent, but that the French are guilty of a similar thing.

    #1: Senegal --> France --> England?

    #95: Vitriolic, but missing the point completely. It's not "We're innocent, yah boo, you French are awful" but "They're all at it, not just us English".

    As for the ridiculous "racist" comments about Steve's post, I'll quote it myself:

    "One of French football's greatest achievements over the last decade has been to integrate players born outside France into their national team."

    Integration! In fact, he's implying the opposite to the accusers, that people originally from another country/ethnic group CAN adapt to become French/English/whatever.

    Just look at England's "non-white" players (for the want of a more PC description): Rio Ferdinand, Ashley Cole, Aaron Lennon, Emile Heskey, Glen Johnson... and that's just from England's starting XI on Wednesday. Not to mention Jermain Defoe and Wes Brown on the bench. England and France are proudly multiethnic countries and rightly so, there's nothing wrong with people from different races and backgrounds. As #60 quite cheerfully says, that argument was fought and won many years ago. Read his post again, it's quite enlightening.

    Also:

    "There is no doubt that it has to be wrong to offer inducements to the families of minors, and that those clubs and individuals found guilty deserve to be punished."

    Can't see any racist remarks, implict or explicit, in there.

    So, in other words, England and France just as bad as each other. Though you're quite right to point out, #95, England has also had players born outside of England. Just ask Owen Hargreaves and John Barnes, who themselves are/were in no different a situation to Messieurs Mandana and Evra.

    All four adopted the shirt of another country to that of their birth, either through naturalisation (Barnes, Evra, Mandana) or virtue of parentage (Hargreaves, who I believe was born in Canada, lived in Germany for ages and is also half Welsh!).

    Thought-provoking blog Steve, albeit lacking in references, but it looks like you've touched a collective nerve. Good luck braving the flames.

  • Comment number 97.

    @96,

    you do not find it odd, that a reporter is writting a piece for a intrenationally recoginsed broadcaster without doing any research or mentioning one example, ONE, for his personal attack against french football?

    based on the lack of evidence the issue becomes void and lacks ay professionalism. he accuses the french of doing dodgy transfers, of displacing kids in africa? now as a frenchman i find this disgrceful and offensive. no, we're not perfect,but if you going to make allegtions ofillegal activities, and immoral, then prove it.

  • Comment number 98.

    So, have you heard? Barcelona has just taken a 7-year old from Lyon, a certain Kais. Father Moroccan, mother Spanish. I´d like to point out it´s perfectly ok, as long as Lyon don´t complain and no FIFA rules have been broken.

  • Comment number 99.

    no they havent, it was just a story to sell papers. they came out and denied it straight away.

 

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