Date: 1st May 2009 at 11:13am
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As Karl-Heinz Rummenigge embarrassed himself with his ill-judged, ill considered attack on Wengers policy of educating young European footballers he simply added to the hypocrisy already frequently displayed by Platini.

The Chairman of Bayern Munich claimed that Wenger`s recruitment of young players could almost be likened to ‘kidnapping`. An absurd contention which Arsene swiftly put into perspective by inviting others to ask Rummenigge at what age Roque Santa Cruz was invited to join Bayern from Paraguay.

Platini`s apparent concern with the welfare of ‘children` might, on the surface, seem to be morally laudable but even if we ignore the real self serving purpose of his distress it is totally opposite to the EU`s education policy and the reality of the modern world.

Take a look at Kent University`s website and you`ll see that it specifically promotes itself as a European University, actively encouraging 18 year olds from Europe and other countries to sign on for 3 or 4 years, or longer, to receive an education in the UK. Exactly the same offer is made by Kent`s partner universities in Europe to encourage British students to gain an education in Europe. It`s not unique; many universities do the same and are actively encouraged by European Commission policy to do so. It`s not even all that new. Those gifted people in the arts, particularly in music, and some sciences have been pursuing their education at an early age in Europe for centuries.

The Sorbonne in Paris has always been an international university as much as Cambridge and Oxford are here. Gifted children have always had the opportunity and encouragement to pursue their education where it will benefit most. So why does the business of football believe that gifted young players should be discouraged from taking advantage of the same educational benefits that are readily accepted in other fields?

The hypocrisy is even more evident when considered in the light of a programme, recently launched by the European Commission, to encourage those students even before the usual age for university entrance to pursue an education abroad. Its Comenius Individual Pupil Mobility programme, in a brochure under the sub-heading ‘Mobility Creates Opportunities` highlights the benefits:

To visit another school in Europe and to study there for several months or an entire school year is a life changing experience. Every year several thousand upper secondary pupils in Europe undertake this endeavour, supported by their parents who normally have to cover all the costs of the stay abroad. Until now the Comenius programme did not offer this possibility. But times are about to change.

Currently the Commission and the National Agencies are preparing to introduce this new action for all countries participating in the Lifelong Learning Programme. In future schools which are involved in a Comenius School Partnership will be able to apply for grants to send some pupils to a partner school abroad.

The Academy at Arsenal is a place of learning. Students receive an education which while focussed on developing their talent for football also provides for, and supports the development of their broader education. As an educational establishment the Academy is as entitled to join the Comenius programme as any other. If Platini and others in football have a genuine interest in the well-being of young students they should be concerned, not with denying opportunities taken for granted in other fields, but with ensuring that all clubs throughout Europe meet the highest level of educational and pastoral provision.

There is an arrogance amongst those charged with running football that believes, irrespective of wider issues, they should be allowed to pursue their own path and impose social standards entirely different from the rest of the world. It is self-serving in its arrogance and dishonest in concealing its genuine motives which have nothing at all to do with the well being of the individual and young players. It should be seen for the hypocrisy that it is and Rummenigge, Platini and others like them made to embrace the real world.

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