Bengaluru FC seeks early clarity on foreign player rule

The AFC standard ‘3 (foreigners) + 1 (Asian) recruit rule’ will be implemented in the Indian Super League from the 2021-2022 season.

Star midfielder Erik Paartalu is among the five Bengaluru FC players who are under contract with Bengaluru FC.   -  Special Arrangement

With the Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL) and the All India Football Federation (AIFF) set to announce in the coming months their plan to reduce the number of foreign players in the Indian Super League (ISL) from the 2021-2022 season, Bengaluru FC (BFC) CEO Mandar Tamhane called on the governing bodies to chart out the plan early.

I-League will implement the AFC standard ‘3 (foreigners) + 1 (Asian) recruit rule’ from the coming season itself, but the move has been deferred for the ISL until next year following a request from club owners.

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“We at BFC support the rule as it is good for Indian football. It will allow more Indian players to play. But the decision should be taken well in advance so that we can plan,” said Tamhane.

For the 2020-21 edition, ISL will continue with the five-foreigner rule (in the playing XI) with a maximum of seven in the squad. The only change will be the mandatory inclusion of an AFC player.

BFC currently has five foreigners on contract for the next season – Dimas Delgado, Eric Paartalu (AFC), Juanan, Raphael Augusto and Deshorn Brown. Defensive mainstay Albert Serran will be a free agent by May end.

“We need to take a call on Serran’s contract. [But] we already have five players for the next season. So we will wait and watch. Normally we need to register foreign players by August 31. But with Covid, we expect it to be extended. Also we still don't know when the league is going to start.”

“But going forward, with the number of foreigners set to be limited, we need to see how we are progressing with our youth teams; whether we can promote somebody or is there anyone young in the market. These things influence decision-making. So we need clarity early.”

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Clubs’ financial limitations in the post-Covid phase and the fluid visa situation will not help matters.

“Finances will matter even more, but there is also a positive side to look at. Since a lot of countries may not complete their leagues or will be forced to restructure, there is a good possibility that there will be quality foreigners available at a lesser value. So it depends on how the market evolves.”

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