Qatar to reduce number of foreign football players in coming seasons

Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Thani

Doha Stadium Plus/Flickr

Effective next season, professional football teams in Qatar must consist of a maximum number of three foreign players and a minimum of eight local ones, the national football association has announced.

The number will be reduced further to two players in the 2015-2016 season, according Doha Stadium Plus, which cited a new roadmap released by the Qatar Football Association this week.

This is a change from the four-player cap that was previously in place, and comes as Qatar tries to shape a national team for the 2022 World Cup.

Speaking to reporters, QFA president Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Thani said that the change was made in part because many expat players appear to come to Qatar for the money. He continued, as quoted by Gulf Times:

“Foreign players are recruited at a very high cost by the clubs but often you see they don’t perform well, which is not a healthy trend. I don’t want to name names, but it is obvious that the majority of foreign players are not performing up to the standards expected of them.”

However, expats who live in Qatar for five years or more would still be eligible to play on the national team, QSL said in a statement:

“Any foreign player who resides in Qatar for five years and does not represent any other team out of the country – beginning from the 2014-15 season – can represent Qatar at the national level provided that he is worthy of a place in the national squad. We reiterate that our doors are open to all proposals to benefit football in Qatar. The fans, the players, the clubs and the working staff – we are all in the same boat. We all want to develop football in Qatar and that’s our collective goal.”

According to DSP, most football clubs in Qatar are against the new restriction. Some 15 out of the 18 teams expressed opposition, in part because of the talent foreign-born players bring in.

As part of its road map, QFA will also focus on developing young local players, training more Qatari referees and coaches and reaching out to the community to bring in fans.

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