Football protectionism

Dan Drezner notes that President Vladimir Putin has expressed concern about the number foreign players being imported by Russian football (soccer) clubs. Clubs in the Russian Premier League will not be allowed more than five foreign players by 2010, compared to the current limit of eight per club. Drezner’s commenters point out that football protectionism isn’t unique to Russia: many European leagues have quotas on the number of non-EU players. Over the weekend, Reading boss Steve Coppell called for a cap on the number of non-English EPL players. And last year, UEFA imposed a rule mandating a minimum number of “home-grown” players.

Kanika Datta defends a free market in football players:

The presence of so many foreign players in Europe provides a compelling counter argument against quotas in a free market economy. Europe is arguably the nerve centre of the vibrant global soccer industry. A good fifth of the players in its clubs are non-European in origin, if not by actual citizenship… Ironically, too many of these non-European participants play against huge odds, not least of which is the egregious and disturbing surge in racism. This is the response of white supremacists who perceive a loss of jobs for the boys because non-Europeans are muscling their way into European clubs. Not that this deters club owners one whit. As anyone who runs a business will tell you, there is no place for nationality or caste in the money-making stakes.

Visit Thierry Henry’s “Stand Up, Speak Up” campaign against racism in football here.