This is just getting obnoxious. We heard rumours earlier today that Aston Villa transfer target Lovre Kalinić had been denied his work permit that would allow him to come play for Villa. At the time, I was extrememly dubious about the news, coming as it did from sources that I couldn't verify very well.
But now it's coming from a source that I know and trust a bit more: The Birmingham Mail. According to the Mail Kalinić has already been denied a work permit and it is thought that he and the club have lost an appeal of that decision as well. (Actually, in one paragraph the Mail says that an appeal is "thought to have been lodged" and later they say "An appeal was lodged but it made no difference." That's confusing.) So instead of getting a Croatian international keeper from Hajduk Split for a mere £3 million, Aston Villa will be getting absolutely nothing.
And why? Well, because the FA have determined that Kalinić is not of a high enough caliber to merit a work permit. Because he has not appeared in 75% of Croatia's matches in the past two years. He's a goalkeeper, a position with incredibly limited turnover. The standard makes (perhaps limited) sense for outfield players, where there are more chances to play, but it's an absurd way to judge goalkeepers. By the FA's standards, only one Croatian 'keeper would qualify for a work permit to play in England, and that's just absurd.
It bothers me even more because this is the FA saying to Aston Villa, "We know you scouted this player, and really want him, and think he's good buuuuuuuut we disagree, so piss off."
Even more infuriating is the fact that if the United Kingdom weren't engaging in protectionist policies with regards to work permits from Croatia this wouldn't even be an issue. Since Croatia is a member of the European Union, eventually all of its citizens will have the right to work in any other EU country. But there is an exception to that rule that allows countries to hold out for up to seven years. Most of Europe chose two years and Kalinić is free to work in most EU countries without bothering with paperwork at this point. But not in the UK and a handful of other countries. In the UK, Croatians will not be allowed to work without a permit until 1 July 2018.
This is just so so stupid. We finally find a player willing to come to Aston Villa, and one who could help solve a significant problem that the club have, and the FA have dicked us over. What else do you expect from an organization willing to wage a £200,000 fine on celebratory fans?