English Premier League: No English Need Apply?

Andrew StevensCorrespondent IJune 1, 2008

For some time now there has been much negativity surrounding the dominant status of the English Premier League.

Fans on the continent of Europe are not happy with the fact that La Liga (Spain), Serie A (Italy), or the Bundesliga (Germany) are unable to produce teams that could stack up against the top talent from England, leading to a now much discussed all-English Champions League Final. In this final, Manchester United outlasted Chelsea in a classic decided by a penalty shootout.

In these pages I defended the fact that the EPL has produced dominant teams, citing the fact that football should be decided on the pitch and not in the columns of Anglophobic writing. Yet the football conversation in England now is not one of chest-thumping bravado and celebration but of xenophobia.

Instead of talk about Man U's historic supremacy and the elite status of the EPL, the conversations are based on nationalist rhetoric. Fans moan, “Why aren’t there more English-born players in the Premier League? There should be a way to get more English players in the EPL."

Hogwash. If one applied this logic to Major League Baseball fans, in a generation or so no one in America would watch.

Baseball in America (not to mention the country as a whole) is becoming more and more Hispanic. Athletes from the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Cuba, among others, have given baseball an influx of talent, energy, and skill. American kids are simply playing other sports. Nor do they have same drive to excel in baseball compared to Hispanic teenagers coming out of some of the most outrageous poverty in the Western Hemisphere.

They want it more. The dominance of white and black American-born children in baseball not where it was a generation ago. And this trend is continuing.

While this is met with little reservation in America, in England there is fear mongering. Twelve of the twenty-two players in the Champions League Final for Man U and Chelsea were not English-born. The best player for Man U, if not in the world today, is Cristiano Ronaldo, who is Portuguese.

Players come for all over the world to play football in England, because it is the best league in the world. No other league can match the visual presentation, television revenue, and on-pitch talent of the EPL.

Fans should appreciate and value what they have. Not so long ago, the EPL was in its infancy, and looking up meekly at the leagues on the continent of Europe. Now, flush with television cash and global exposure, the EPL can attract talent from all over the world.

Instead of protectionist rants and quota systems, the EPL should look at how they can continually play a dominant role in football for the generations to come. Let the rest of the leagues try to catch up.