THE new season starting next month could see a record number of foreign
talents involved in the local leagues but their impact is left to be seen.
The FA of Malaysia (FAM) and their affiliates expect the foreigners to
add glamour, help raise standards and bring the fans back.
The FAM Local Competitions Committee and the FAM Council have apparently
given the matter much thought and are allowing teams a maximum of four
imports although only three can be fielded at any one time in a match.
A conservative 60 players - compared to the previous high of 55 in 1997
- are expected to ply their trade in the eight-team Super League and 18-
team Premier League.
An average of three foreigners per team will see 24 in the Super League
while two per team in the Premier League will see another 36 involved in
the local leagues.
Among the fears in hiring these players is that teams without means
could get into financial difficulties towards the end of the season by
exceeding their budgets.
The FAM Vetting Committee go through all requests to hire foreign
players and demand a bank guarantee from the teams. The committee are also
supposed to check the credentials of the players.
But time and time again many of the signings seldom measure up and their
contracts are terminated before the end of the season.
With Juan Manuel Arostegui making a big impact with Malaysia Cup winners
Selangor MPPJ last season, there has been a rush to hire Argentine
Arostegui, who scored 50 goals, has moved on to greener pastures and it
is anybody's guess how his compatriots will fare.
In the past, Malaysia saw a fair share of social problems created by the
foreign players and it could well be compounded by the increase in their
The great hope is that local players, especially the youngsters, will
learn from the foreigners but teams seldom use the imports in coaching
clinics and other activities that help raise standards.
The biggest setback in signing foreigners is that local players will be
deprived a chance to play in their own leagues.
And players deprived from first team places could well come from the
national and Olympic ranks and that would severely affect the standard of
our national teams.
The hiring of imports could also have an adverse impact on the grooming
of fresh local talent as teams will be tempted to take the easy way out
and buy ready players.
In the end, we could well see a Malaysian league for foreigners to