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AIFF to Cap Foreign Players in I-League Clubs This year, to Implement 3+1 Rule

Senior All India Football Federation (AIFF) officials took the decision to cap the number of foreign players in I-League on May 11, during a meeting with representatives of the clubs over a video conference. 
I-league clubs will have a cap on foreign players from the upcoming season later this year

Sources revealed two I-League clubs were against the implementation of the foreign players cap but the AIFF was keen to go ahead.

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) regulation of allowing a maximum of three foreign and one Asian recruit (3+1) in the playing XI of clubs for participation in continental club competitions will be followed in I-League from the upcoming season. Interestingly, the rule change would not be implemented this year in the Indian Super League (ISL), whose USP is the foreign names in the roster. 

Senior All India Football Federation (AIFF) officials took this decision on May 11, during a meeting with representatives of I-League clubs over a video conference. 

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“All clubs have agreed to reduce the quota of foreigners and bring it down to the rule of 3+1 from the 2020-21 season,” an official said.

Interestingly, the technical committee of the AIFF, which met three days ago, recommended the 3+1 rule from the 2021 season onwards. The federation, however, opted to implement it earlier.

“The Committee discussed at length and unanimously recommended the implementation of the 3 (foreigners) +1 (Asian) recruit rule for all domestic league matches after the 2021 season onwards, as per current AFC regulations for participation in AFC Club competitions,” said a press release from the federation on May 8.

Asked why there was a different set of rules for the I-League clubs, a senior official said: “Since most of the ISL franchises have already signed contracts with foreign footballers this season, it would be unfair to ask them to follow the 3+1 rule. We discussed the matter with I-League clubs. They agreed to follow it from this season itself.”

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Sources revealed Real Kashmir FC is the only I-League club which had some reservations over the new rule. Kerala’s Gokulam FC too suggested the AIFF should allow the clubs to register five foreigners and field four. The suggestion was noted but the federation insisted the rule to be in sync with the AFC regulation.

While implementing the 3+1 cap on recruitment of foreigners in I-League was never regarded as a difficult job, it would be interesting to see how the AIFF gets it implemented in the ISL from the 2021-22 season.

If sources are to be believed, some ISL franchises have already raised eyebrows over the proposed rule and wondered how it could be passed in the technical committee without being discussed with them. However, what the technical committee made was only a recommendation – it can only become a rule once the AIFF passes it in the meeting to be held on May 13.

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