Monday, March 10, 2008
It's not often I agree with FIFA President Sepp Blatter.
But for once, he has a point. Albeit a slight one.
Speaking at a FIFA technical committee meeting in Zurich, Switzerland, Blatter said national team coaches should come from the same country as the players. He'd like foreign coaches to be banned from national teams.
Ok, he has a point. He was specifically talking about his friend, German Berti Vogts, whose spell in charge of Nigeria ended poorly at last month's African Cup of Nations.
Blatter suggests that Vogts' inability to stay in the west African country during his reign could have been responsible for Nigeria's worst Cup display in 25 years.
"My old friend Berti Vogts was in charge of Nigeria and he didn't even live in the country - that surely can't be the correct way to proceed?," Blatter asked.
"Vogts was not living in Nigeria because he said his players weren't there. But to feel a team you must feel the country."
Only four coaches out of the 16 teams at the recent African Cup of Nations were from the countries they were leading.
This can't be good.
Of course, nurturing different styles of play is a good thing. Having the Dutch style of play fostered into the Barcelona system, for example, has set the club ablaze. It's also allowed players from the club to incorporate that style of play into their national squads.
The argument centers on whether it's healthy to have a foreign coach train natural born players. Can they co-exist? Will the players be as motivated by a foreigner?
Yes and no.
On one hand, being exposed to different styles of play is a good thing.
On the other hand, one needs to relate to one's players. How better than by speaking the same language and coming from the same soil?
At the very least, foreign coaches should live in their coaching nation. How does a player get motivated by an absent teacher? It makes no sense.
"In Africa recently, many of the countries competing in the Cup of Nations had foreign coaches. But all have now gone," Blatter said.
"Of course, national associations are free to choose who they believe is the right man but I do think that the cause of international football would be made stronger with indigenous coaches. I cannot believe that it is possible to properly bring young players into international football and motivate them and bring improvement through a translator."
"I will bring it to the Technical Committee on Monday. If we had such a rule maybe it would impact on the freedom of the associations. But we can take up this matter."
It's an interesting suggestion. At least the matter should be investigated.