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Football

ISL 2020-21: No major change in foreign player policy, Asian quota a must

ISL clubs will be allowed to sign a minimum of five and a maximum of seven foreign players, given that one of them hails from an AFC-affiliated country.

ISL 2020-21: No major change in foreign player policy, Asian quota a must
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By

Sagnik

Published: 8 May 2020 6:03 AM GMT

The technical committee of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) is poised to meet later today to discuss the contentious issue of reducing the number of foreign players in domestic leagues, as per Asian Football Confederation (AFC) guidelines.

However, it is understood that there will be just a couple of minor changes in the foreign player policy for Indian Super League (ISL) clubs. The Bridge can confirm that ISL clubs can sign a minimum of five and a maximum of seven foreign players, given their annual salaries don’t exceed the salary cap. Also, unlike previous seasons, at least one of the overseas players has to be from an AFC-affiliated country. A team will be allowed to name a maximum of five foreign players in the starting lineup.

A week back, when Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL) suggested a change in the number of foreigners a team can sign during a video conference, several ISL clubs had revoked it. In fact, Kerala Blasters FC wanted the league to increase the number of foreign players to eight. Other clubs also reasoned that with most of the foreign signings already completed, such a late decision cannot be accepted.

Kerala-Blasters-Ogbeche-1 At least 5 clubs have completed their foreign signings (Source: ISL)

With the ISL 2019-20 season ending in the first week of March, most teams have already started the process of building the squad for the next campaign. At least five ISL clubs are understood to be close to finalising seven foreigners each for the upcoming season. Now, even if the AIFF committee suggests that the number of foreigners be reduced, in compliance with AFC’s “3+1” rule (four foreign players in a squad, one of them being from an AFC-affiliated country), it is unlikely to happen.

Many coaches, experts and pundits believe that for Indian football to grow and for domestic players to attain the next level, it is imperative that foreigners be reduced. National team head coach Igor Štimac has also expressed that he is in favour of the “3+1” rule and in effect, the foreign policy should be reconsidered.

However, with the uncertainty surrounding Covid-19, the ISL is unwilling to make any major changes from last season, whether it be increasing the number of matches or decreasing the number of foreigners.

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