Great interview with Marco van Basten, Dutch footballing legend who has just stepped down as manager of the national team.
World Soccer: Michel Platini is now president of UEFA. Can a former player help to change things?
Van Basten: Yes, I hope so, but he is also caught up in the politics. It’s difficult to effect change, you need a lot of power, a lot of support. I have had a chat with him about the national competitions. I think it’s strange that France and Spain have 20 clubs [in their top division], Portugal has 16 clubs and we have 18 clubs in Holland. I would suggest it’s good for football if every country has the same number of clubs playing in the same competition. He said: “I fully agree with you but every country can do what they want.”
World Soccer: What about countries such as Switzerland with only 10 clubs?
Van Basten: But if everybody has the same number of clubs, say 18, then they have all expended the same amount of energy when they go to an international tournament. And it would be good to have a club squad system like the European Championship, so everyone starts the competition with the same number of players, say 26. That way, Chelsea would have the same amount of players as Fulham. At the moment, you have Chelsea with 40 players and Fulham with 25. Quite a few of the Chelsea players rarely get used, even though they are better than the ones at Fulham. That’s not good for football. Platini said: “I fully agree with you, but I can’t change these rules. That’s the way football is organized.”