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Platini Seeks to Ban the Transfer of Minors
Daily Mail, March 31st, 2008 3:30PM
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UEFA President Michel Platini on Monday directed harsh criticism at England's big four over their policy of recruiting young players from overseas and planned to work with politicians to ban the signing of 16-year-old boys from foreign countries. Should he succeed, the move would have huge implications for these clubs, which have come to rely on cheap foreign talent to bolster their squads.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger pioneered the practice of encouraging 16 and 17 year-old boys to join his club. The most famous of these young recruits, perhaps, is Spanish international Cesc Fabregas, who grew up training with Barcelona's youth team. The policy is now also widely used by Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United.

UEFA President Platini is now working with the European Commission to impose an exemption to labor laws specifically for soccer that would prevent England's richest clubs from signing foreign players under the age of 18. "I have told the European Commission that we should ban the transfer of minors," Platini said. "The first football contract that a player signs should be for the club that trains them," he added. "I left for another country at 25. You don't need to leave at 15. It's to do with protecting social values, family values."

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