Poaching Talent: Moral Issue or Calculated Risk?

tumang bokabaCorrespondent IJuly 9, 2009

VIENNA, AUSTRIA - JUNE 28:  UEFA President Michel Platini looks on during the UEFA EURO 2008 tournament review press conference at Ernst Happel Stadion on June 28, 2008 in Vienna, Austria. The UEFA EURO 2008 Final match will be played between Germany and Spain on June 29, 2008.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Once again, UEFA President Michel Platini has, in absence of any real work to do, decided to attack the English Premier League for supposedly poaching young continental talents for their own benefit. 

"I left for another country at 25," Platini said. "You don't need to leave at 15. It's to do with protecting social values, family values. There is no justification for buying them at 15, getting them over with parents, that is just not on."


Perhaps he wasn't good enough before then. Maybe nobody wanted him. Maybe he was not ready to leave home. Maybe his family circumstances were not as dire as the rest of these youngsters seeking fame and fortune, maybe...maybe!

What particularly irked our dearest candle-holder of social reform and equity is the signing by Manchester United of erstwhile protegee Alberto Massacci.

In truth, this is not the first anyone has complained about the signing of young continental players by Premier League clubs at a young age. Fran Merida of Arsenal, Cesc Fabregas, Federico Macheda of United, Chelsea too has experienced discontent from mother clubs for poaching.

But whose fault is it?

Listening from the Equal Opportunity Gremlin Platini, one would be certain that the English clubs are solely at fault. Some have even gone as far as labeling them "pirates." What the likes of Platini and his supporters fail to appreciate is that football, like any other career, is controlled to a large by simple economics and taking advantages of loop holes in the systems.

Take Italy for example, who, because of their legal frameworks, won't tie up reserve players on professional contracts until they reach the age of 18. When the Italian lawmakers promulgated this law, surely they knew they consequences of their actions?

Whether or not the signing of these players will bear fruit in the long run is a moot point, just as signing players after the age of 18 or whatever age the lawmakers deem OK, does not necessarily mean they will succeed.

Critics of signing these young players will have you believe that it's detrimental to their development, it's morally incomprehensible, and all that. The truth is, the benefits for either player's family far out-weighs any trophies that the player may or may not win. Immediate families are taken care of, lifestyle improves for the better, and a new culture and the team gets a dedicated, motivated employee for the signed period.

Perhaps, instead of lashing out emotionally and jealously about the success of the English Premier League, Platini and company should bring the rest of the UEFA at the same level of competence as the EPL. Make them competitive with money. Invest in the less glamorous leagues so that native players have no reason to sign with the likes of Man United at a "pirated age."