x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Clubs push to increase foreign presence in UAE with fifth non-Emirati signing

Proposal also asks for three-plus-one policy advanced by Asian Football Confederation to be dropped, reports John McAuley.

Lee Myung-joo, left, of Pohang Steelers shields the ball from David Rochenla of Buriram United during their AFC Champions League match at Buriram Stadium on March 11, 2014, in Buriram, Thailand. Asian players such as Lee may soon lose the places reserved for players from the continent on Arabian Gulf League teams. Thananuwat Srirasant / Getty Images
Lee Myung-joo, left, of Pohang Steelers shields the ball from David Rochenla of Buriram United during their AFC Champions League match at Buriram Stadium on March 11, 2014, in Buriram, Thailand. Asian players such as Lee may soon lose the places reserved for players from the continent on Arabian Gulf League teams. Thananuwat Srirasant / Getty Images

DUBAI // The Football Association are investigating the possibility of extending the country’s foreign allocation to five players after clubs voted unanimously for the increase at the general assembly on Thursday night.

The proposal, put forward by Al Wahda, has asked for an extra expatriate slot – although still only four foreign players could be used on the pitch at one time – and also requested the abolition of the Asian Football Confederation player rule. At present, each club must adhere to the three-plus-one-Asian policy regarding expats on the pitch.

Officials from teams in the Arabian Gulf League and Division One discussed the rule change at the FA’s headquarters, with the governing body referring the case to its technical committee.

From there, the proposal will be assessed and then returned to the board of directors, who will take the final decision in consultation with the clubs.

“All clubs approved it because this will be in favour of everyone,” said Mohammed Hazzam Al Dhaheri, the FA’s acting general secretary. “Everyone agreed and the FA is very happy.

“It’s a big jump for us and, if approved, in the coming period this will boost the player market and improve teams in the seasons ahead. We hope it will have a positive effect; that’s why we passed it to the technical committee to get its feedback. Then we will move forward.”

Al Dhaheri would not speculate on how long the process would take, although he preferred it be resolved before the beginning of the 2014/15 campaign.

He said that, whatever change is made, it must comply with Asian Football Confederation regulations as it would affect clubs contesting continental competitions.

“We will do our research to find out how we can work around it,” Al Dhaheri said. “It doesn’t meet with the AFC criteria exactly, but other federations are already using this practice. We will see what we can do. Each federation customises its own requirements.”

jmcauley@thenational.ae

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