Increasing the foreign player cap a recipe for disaster

October 11, 2022 - 07:22
A cursory glance at the top scorer list for the V.League 1 this season reveals what is a common sight.

Peter Cowan

A cursory glance at the top scorer list for the V.League 1 this season reveals what is a common sight.

The vast majority of the names on that list are foreign, with Jamaican Rimario Gordon the league’s top scorer this year by some distance.

If foreign players are the league’s top scorers and therefore best players then you might think adding more overseas talent to the league will improve overall quality, but I’m not so sure.

This issue has been brought into focus after reports emerged that from next season, clubs may be allowed to sign four foreign players.

Currently, V.League 1 teams can have three fully foreign players in their squad, as well as one naturalised player.

If the new rules are adopted, they could have three players from any country, one non-Vietnamese Asian player, and one naturalised player.

Ostensibly, the reason behind the change is to bring Vietnamese football into step with many other leagues around Asia that have similar foreign player caps.

The present rules do put Vietnamese clubs at a disadvantage when playing in continental competition, but I don’t see that as a good enough reason for the change.

It’s not that I’m xenophobic or a militant nationalist though, but the way foreign signings are currently handled tells me Vietnamese football is not ready for this change.

The offseason transfer window is, to put it mildly, bizarre when it comes to foreign players.

The same names keep cycling from club to club every transfer, even when it’s been well established that they lack the quality to make a big difference. Why do they keep getting opportunities? Let’s euphemistically call it economic incentives.

Contracts disputes are common between clubs and agents, with the latter claiming they have exclusive rights to negotiate for a foreign player in Việt Nam when the former has just gone ahead and signed their client anyway, leaving the agent out of their fee.

Perhaps most egregiously though, there have been several high profile incidents in recent years of clubs failing to pay foreign players what they are owed, leading to disputes being taken in front of FIFA and trashing the V.League 1’s reputation.

Add it all up and I really can’t see why anyone involved in football administration here would think that local clubs are ready for a fourth foreign player when so many of them can’t do right by those they do have.

Instead of giving clubs more opportunities to disgrace themselves and the league with their conduct with regards to overseas signings, perhaps the powers that be should clean up the transfer market as it stands. VNS