The Signing Of ASEAN Players for Thai League
Since the news of the Thai Premier League’s move to introduce the five foreign players, 1 from Asia and 1 from ASEAN countries, has been reported last December, it has garnered a mixture of reactions
Since the news of the Thai Premier League’s move to introduce the five foreign players, 1 from Asia and 1 from ASEAN countries, has been reported last December, it has garnered a mixture of reactions from the Thais and as well as regional football fraternity.
As reported by The Straits Times, the move was driven in part by a desire to improve the level of football in South-east Asia. The commercial benefits for the Thai clubs are going to be significant as well.
However, a small portion of the Thai football community do not seems to be impressed by the new ASEAN player introduction. Apparently, an article was published by Siam Sports recently. It openly criticized Thailand Football Association for hiring a Singaporean, Benjamin Tan as Premier League Thailand’s deputy chief executive officer and his appointment indirectly resulted into the establishment of the unfavorable 4 + 1 foreign player quota. We hope that the discussion could be objective with no intend of any form of discrimination.
ASEAN football is rising. If a professional league envisioned expanding their presence overseas, the inclusion of ASEAN/AFC player is one of the best options which benefits both ways. Although the level of play from ASEAN countries have not surpass most East Asian countries at the moment, the quality of the top players from ASEAN countries, namely Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam, are respectable. In terms of salary, ASEAN players typically command much lesser than the Europeans or South Americans too.
In a nutshell, a player will improve with overseas football stints by playing and training amongst other top players. And when you sign a top player from a neighboring country (at a decent fee), you are actually signing the following of that player’s entire nation. The “signing” of that following might yield potential sponsorships and other gains.
One good example of an Asian league that practices the ASEAN player signing is the J.League. Undoubtedly the well-organized league, if not the best league in Asia, can sign 3 foreign players + 1 AFC + 1 ASEAN from one of several Southeast Asian nations who has signed partnerships with J.League. The signing of Vietnam’s Nguyen Tuan Anh (Yokohama FC), Indonesia’s Irfan Bachdim & latest Thailand’s Chanathip Songkrasin (both Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo) have proven successful.
The following on the respective club from the signed player’s country was reported to have increased remarkably. More football fans in Vietnam, Indonesia & Thailand are following Japanese football.
Recently, the world’s most talk-about league, Chinese Super League has also launched a similar foreign player quota for the upcoming season which inclusive of an AFC player. Even a country with a population of 1.3 billion, who has the ability for self-sustaining its own league, understands the importance of reaching out to a wider market to further professionalize their sport in all aspects.
Australia’s A-League looks set to follow suit with a similar rule soon.