Foreign players in league to be reduced from next season

Foreign players in league to be reduced from next season

The job of new Turkey coach Abdullah Avcı (2nd R) will definitely be made easier when the TFF’s latest decision on foreign players actually goes into effect next season. (PHOTOS Today’s Zaman)

June 14, 2012, Thursday/ 16:26:00/ OKAN UDO BASSEY

The Turkish national football team missed out on the 2010 World Cup bonanza in South Africa and is also conspicuously absent from the ongoing Euro 2011 in Poland and Ukraine.

This situation is wholly unacceptable to football-loving Turks and therefore the problem has to be tackled as a matter of urgency.

The general consensus was that there are too many foreign players in the domestic Spor Toto Super League -- the top sides in particular -- and so homegrown rising stars do not have the opportunity to play at the top level. This, without mincing words, has adversely affected the performance of the Turkish national team.

The Turkish Football Federation (TFF) could not afford to sit on the fence under these circumstances, but had to act to prevent further rot of the national team. And the TFF executive board’s meeting on Wednesday decided to reduce the number of foreign players in topflight Turkish football systematically, starting in the 2013-14 season.

Currently, clubs are allowed to have up to eight foreign players on the team, but can only field six at a time. That will reduce to six next season and five in 2014-15.

Let them say what they want but it is worth mentioning that this decision by the current TFF, which usually acts before it thinks, is worthy of praise. Hard-earned cash is being squandered on foreign players by Super League clubs every blessed season.

Beşiktaş had almost a dozen contracted players last season but the Black Eagles, as Beşiktaş is popularly called, wound up winning nothing at all in 2011-12. Portuguese striker Bebe, on loan from Manchester United, hardly played for the Eagles this season. The same applied to Brazilian lefty Edu.

Furthermore, the club is now neck deep in debt and has been banned from Europe for one season. Former Chairman Yıldırım Demirören, who incurred most of the debt, left to become TFF president.

Despite all the hard cash wasted on foreign players, the standard of football in this country has not really improved, and Turks have been condemned to watching Euro 2012 on television, just as was the case in the 2010 World Cup.

The big clubs claim foreign players save them from unfair competition in European competitions. But the saddest thing is that a great number of foreign players in the Super League are inferior to Turks. Adding insult to injury, the presence of the mediocre foreign players means fewer Turks being able to perform in topflight Turkish football and therefore not too many good players are at the national team coach’s disposal.

Current national team coach Abdullah Avcı is trying to circumvent this problem by calling up more Europe-based Turkish players to the national team. It has worked so far for Avcı as Turkey won four of its five friendly matches in Europe before Euro 2012 kicked off. And Avcı’s job will hopefully be made easier when the TFF’s latest decision on foreign players actually goes into effect.

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