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ISL makes it mandatory for teams to have at least one AFC-affiliated foreign player

ISL champions ATK celebrate after beating Chennaiyin FC in the finals
ISL champions ATK celebrate after beating Chennaiyin FC in the finals
Abhishek Kundu

The Indian Super League (ISL) has modified its foreign player registration rule to accommodate players affiliated to AFC member nations, Sportskeeda understands. As per the new rule, the seventh foreign player in the squad has to be affiliated to an AFC member association.

Previously, there was no restriction on the nationality of foreign players in the ISL. A club had to register a maximum of seven and a minimum of six players without an Indian passport, with three of them receiving due approval from FSDL.

Clubs now no longer need permission from the ISL organizers to register any of their foreign players. However, they must disclose the annual salary details of all their players, both Indian and foreign, and their overall sum should not exceed the salary cap.

No agreement has been reached regarding the number of foreign players taking to the field. While some parties want clubs to field their fifth foreigner from an AFC background, others want the ISL to comply with the country's '3+1' rule, thereby decreasing the number of non-Indian players on the pitch at any point in time.

ISL clubs with AFC players in the past

Katsumi Yusa, who played for NorthEast United FC in past, now plies his trade in the I-League
Katsumi Yusa, who played for NorthEast United FC in past, now plies his trade in the I-League

In the 2019-20 season of ISL, Masih Saighani (Chennaiyin FC, Afghanistan), Erik Paartalu (Bengaluru FC, Australia), and David Williams (ATK, Australia) were the only three foreign players affiliated to AFC countries plying their trade in the tournament.

Christopher Herd, Tim Cahill, Andrew Barisic (all Australia), Katsumi Yusa, Robert Cullen (both Japan), Do-dong Hyun, Park Kwang-il (both South Korea), Mamunul Islam (Bangladesh), and Zohib Islam Amiri (Afghanistan) are some other players of AFC descent who have donned jerseys of various ISL clubs in the past.

Barring FC Goa, Jamshedpur FC, and Bengaluru FC, every club began their journey last season with seven foreign players, with the latter two bringing in reinforcements in the January transfer window.

Only the Gaurs kept going with six foreigners throughout the season and clinched the ISL League Winners Shield. But, as they are going to participate in the AFC Champions League this season, they will have to bring an AFC affiliated player into their ranks.


Edited by Sai Krishna

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