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World Cup: England has 'gone backward' under Fabio Capello, says Franz Beckenbauer

Apparently, Franz Beckenbauer still hasn't gotten over that loss in 1966. You know the one: England 4, West Germany 2 (OT), in London in the final of the World Cup 44 years ago.

The German legend, one of only two men to win the World Cup as a player and as a coach, was not impressed by the Three Lions' performance in their 1-1 tie with the U.S. So much so, in fact, that he said England had "gone backward" under Italian Coach Fabio Capello.

"What I saw of the English against the USA had very little to do with football," Beckenbauer wrote in a column he penned - -or had ghost-penned for him--in the Times of South Africa. "It looked to me as if the English have gone backward into the bad old days of kick and rush."

Beckenbauer said the cause might be the English Premier League's importation of foreign players to stock its teams, thereby depriving English players of the opportunity to develop to their fullest in a competitive situation.

"The English are being punished for the fact that there are very few English players in the Premier League as clubs use better foreign players from all over the world," Beckenbauer said.

Premier League clubs have the right to sign any players they want. They sign the best precisely because they want to remain competitive. The origin of the players is of little consequence. The diversity is what makes the EPL one of the most interesting and, consequently, financially successful leagues in the world.

It sounds more as if Beckenbauer is acting as a stalking horse for his old pal and FIFA president, Joseph "Sepp" Blatter, who wants leagues to limit the number of foreign players they field even though the idea goes against European Union law.

The argument could just as easily be made that England is one of the legitimate challengers for the 2010 World Cup precisely because the English players compete week in and week out against the best from the rest of the world.

-- Grahame L. Jones, in Johannesburg, South Africa

 
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