Foreign Footballers Face Language Test

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January can be a stressful month for any British football manager, as the transfer window opens clubs have 31 days in which to sell and buy players. New immigration laws which came in to affect in autumn 2008 will make things even harder.

The new points based visa system means that any players who are from outside the European Union will have to apply for a Tier 2 skilled worker visa and prove that they have a basic level of English before they will be allowed to permanently stay and play professional football in Britain.

In the premier league today there are approximately 100 players who came here from outside the EU. To qualify in the Tier 2 skilled category, elite sportspeople and coaches must accumulate sufficient points in a range of areas to do with their work and status.

It was revealed last week that footballers will be allowed to work in Britain under Tier 5 of the new immigration rules. Within a year in Britain they must take and pass an English language test to qualify for Tier 2 status and continue working in this country. This is excellent news for the Football Association as they now have time to educate their foreign players here in the UK rather than expecting them to learn proficient enough English before they come here. The exemption was brought in because of a request by the FA.

The WAGs (Wives and Girlfriends) who come with the players will be required to have a reasonable standard of English before they enter the country.

These new laws seem like a great idea, it will be interesting to see how they get on. It must be very hard for players who move here with very limited English or none at all. It will be good for English football clubs and the game itself as it will help players integrate into British life; a little English can go a long way. It’s understandable that a player from Brazil (or anywhere outside Europe) will struggle to learn the language at first but just a few simple phrases will help him settle in. Tolerance of foreign nationals is good in Britain and translation services are freely available.

If England’s manager Fabio Capello can do it so can the rest!