Scudamore defends Premier League

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Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore has hit back in the row with FIFA president Sepp Blatter by suggesting a limit on foreigners in the English top flight borders on "xenophobic rhetoric".

Blatter this week spoke out against the Premier League, accusing the competition of being too focused on making money, and complaining that there are not enough homegrown players in first XIs.

Speaking at the launch of the Equality Standard, a framework of measures for clubs set out by anti-discrimination campaigners Kick It Out, Scudamore said: "I do struggle where nationalism, jingoism and patriotism stops and where actually some sort of xenophobic rhetoric takes over."

He added: "And there is a certain amount of that in the football world when I keep getting told that 'how can English football be English football when there are not enough English players in a particular team?'

"I struggle with that when everyone bar David Beckham who is qualified to play for England at the top level is playing at home.

"I start to worry that these start to sound like the sort of attitudes that are quite difficult to justify in my football world and I for one am not going to allow that agenda to be washed over.

"There is nobody more proud of the England football team than me but we can't let that spill over into fear and this sort of agenda."

Scudamore insists the Premier League is the platform for any player, regardless of race or nationality, to be given the opportunity to reach the top level.

"We have a quality agenda, what we want is the best players," he said. "We would like a huge proportion of those best players to be English.

"That would tick every box - if they were the best players in the world we would have success at international level. Under Fabio Capello at the moment we are enjoying that success. That is the ideal combination. We want the players in our league to be the best."

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

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David Beckham
Premier League

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