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Monday, March 30, 2009
ESPNsoccernet: April 6, 11:42 AM UK
Mourinho voices support for FIFA's "6+5" rule

Soccernet staff

Inter Milan boss Jose Mourinho has thrown his backing behind FIFA's controversial "6+5" rule, designed to limit the number of foreign players in domestic leagues, and insists that focusing on home-grown players is the right path to take.

Sepp Blatter's contentious proposal, which has the backing of 155 of FIFA's 208 member nations, states that at the start of a game a club must field at least six players who would be eligible for the national team of the country of the club.

In an interview with ESPN Mourinho said: "The sentiment I think is correct. I'm not concerned about the exact number, 3+3 or 4+4 or 5+5, that's not the point. But the philosophy of teams to look to youth policy and youth development, I think the philosophy is correct, yes."

Serie A side Internazionale famously has very few Italians at the club and this is something that Mourinho has started to address. The Portuguese had too many non-Italian players for his European squad at the start of the season and had to leave five players out of the Champions League list.

As a consequence he brought through two of the club's Italian youngsters, Davide Santon and Mario Balotelli, and Mourinho points out it is important for the fans to have local idols to identify with.

"You know, the world is global, football is global, we cannot be too much concerned about nationalities, but I think the clubs, they must invest in their formation, in players made in the club, made in the country," Mourinho said. "I think this is also about the empathy between the team and the fans."

"In this moment you can see San Siro full of people with Santon shirts. Four months ago they didn't even know Santon was at Inter Milan. In this moment they go to the stadium and wear his shirts - why?

"Because he's Italian, because he's made at Inter, because he's a young boy, because he's a boy who can play at Inter for the next 10, 15 years. So people can create a better relation with the team when they feel the nationality is there."

But despite openly backing FIFA's idea of promoting local talent, Mourinho believes it is not something that can be imposed right away.

"We cannot do it with a finger click," the former Chelsea boss said. "I think most of the teams, they are not ready to give an immediate answer to this kind of demands, it must be step by step."

"The clubs, they cannot feel a little bit of pressure to change direction and approach this philosophy, but is completely possible to do this in the next years."

The "6+5" rule proposed by FIFA last month has met with some tough resistance, not least from the European Commission, who argue that it would amount to discrimination in the workplace and a restriction on the free movement of workers.

• Click below to hear Mourinho talk about Inter's U.S. tournament and the MLS.

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