Dear Mr Blatter,
How's it going? I hope life is treating you well. Wait, who am I kidding we all know it is right? The planning for the upcoming World Cup in Brazil has been flawless after all, and with the next couple set to take place in border-respecting Russia, and everyone's favourite progressive nation/footballing hotbed, Qatar, we all know life is pretty swell for Sepp Blatter at the moment. I'm sure you're enjoying the U17 Women's World Cup too.
Maybe you know why I'm penning this letter? It seems the past week has been quite busy for FIFA, what with the sanctions laid down on FC Barcelona and the RFEF and all. I mean, really, it's quite admirable that you finally found the time to inform everyone -- judging by the lengthy gaps in your correspondence with the club anyway. I can only assume you were simply too caught up in planning your next great decision -- I personally can't wait to see what you have planned next for the beautiful game.
However, if you find the time in your busy schedule, I'd love to get some clarification on a few things, mainly surrounding this transfer ban and the reasoning behind it. Yes, I appreciate that the rules are in place for a reason, and I also agree that our club president could have done a better job articulating himself in his recent response to the news. That being said, I think there are some important issues to discuss.
It seems the problem with FC Barcelona is that their transfer/recruitment strategy/education programme, call it what you will, doesn't comply with any of the three exceptional criteria outlined in Article 19 of the Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players. Although, in reality, what's the purpose of these exceptional circumstances, particularly given how straight-forward it must be to exploit them?
For example, I'm sure a club with Barcelona's stature, particularly in the local community as a symbol for Catalunya and indeed Catalan independence, would have no trouble leaning on local businesses, perhaps creating employment for the families of the young players in question? One call is probably all it takes, and what do you know? The father suddenly has a job at a local restaurant, or maybe the local library? Hell, he could be teaching foreign languages at a school, right? In that circumstance, would it then be appropriate for the player to join the La Masia academy?
I mean, it's just a coincidence that the family found a non-footballing reason to move to Catalunya, right?
I know that you especially Mr Blatter abhor people who exploit the rules. You preach the values of respect, and implore the general public to refrain from breaking laws. If that doesn't make you a stand-up guy, I don't know what does, but in this case in particular, isn't there some small part of you that appreciates the transparency and honesty that FC Barcelona have demonstrated?
We've been upfront with FIFA, with the RFEF and with the players and their families. We genuinely believe that we are offering these young men a better chance, both in football and in life. Education accompanies football, it doesn't take a back seat. They have a stable home, they have friends, and in some cases, it's obvious that they experience a much higher standard of living in Catalunya than they did in their home country. Are these rules and the exceptions supposed to protect the players?
If so, I urge you -- whether you press ahead with the ban or not -- to show some humanity. Ask the players how they feel at La Masia. Ask them how they would feel if they were sent back to their respective home countries, or forced to abandon their promising football careers. Review the rules, and just think: is the footballing world a better place when true intentions are capable of being masked, or where clubs are open and transparent around their recruitment policies?
Maybe you'll discover that FC Barcelona aren't the only institution in need of change...