Turkish Football Federation allows all-foreign lineups in top league
Galatasaray's Wesley Sneijder and Beşiktaş's Jose Sosa fight for the ball during the Istanbul derby game on Jan. 4. AA PhotoThe Turkish Football Federation (TFF) has changed the rules on the foreign player quota for Spor Toto Super League clubs, allowing them to field 11 foreign players beginning next season.
The clubs will be able to have a total of 28 players in their squads, 14 of whom will be able to be foreign players. For the 18-man match squads, the clubs in Turkey’s top league will have the chance to name seven Turkish and 11 foreign players.
The right to sign foreign players will be based on financial criteria; clubs will be required to have no tax or insurance debts, unpaid player wages or unpaid fines to FIFA and UEFA.
In a press conference on Jan. 5, TFF chair Yıldırım Demirören said the aim of the regulation change was to create opportunities for the clubs’ homegrown players.
“The target is to lift the quota on foreign players and encourage the clubs to develop local players,” he said, adding that a club that follows the federation’s incentive system for young players could get 10 million Turkish Liras ($4 million) per season.
Demirören said Turkish national team coach Fatih Terim, who is known to be against foreign player quotas, had been working on the new regulations for over a year in cooperation with other coaches and club executives.
“The new regulations also have the backing of all 18 Spor Toto Super League clubs,” he added.
Göksel Gümüşdağ, head of the Turkish Union of Clubs, said they have given great importance to the financial criteria.
“There are no clubs affected by the rule restricting transfers for the clubs with debts,” he said. “There are clubs with debts that have been restructured, so they are not affected.”
According to current regulations, top league clubs in Turkey are allowed to sign eight foreign players and can have six of them in the 18-man match squad.
The changes in the regulations have been mostly welcomed by the football community, since the prices for Turkish players and their yearly wages have increased astronomically due to the small number of quality players. For example, Bursaspor has set an asking price of 12 million euros for Ozan Tufan, a 19-year-old defensive midfielder who has made his way to the national team.
“There should be some criteria for the foreign players to be transferred, but besides that, this is a good decision,” said Mersin İdman Yurdu coach Rıza Çalımbay. “There will be competition between Turkish and foreign players and this will benefit the national team.”
Galatasaray chairman Duygun Yarsuvat said the new rules would open the way for Turkish players. “I do not think that it is right to forbid foreign players from playing in Turkey through quotas,” he added.
However, former super league coach Giray Bulak opposed the changes.
“We have 30 million young people in our population. Why don’t they build football pitches in neighborhoods instead of allowing foreign players in? If foreign coaches and players are allowed, foreign football executives should also be allowed,” Bulak said.