Friday, March 20, 1992

AFC: Quality first (The Malay Mail)

THE increasing number of Asian countries expected to adhere to the call by
the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) to go professional or
semi-professional is going to further attract foreign players.
To this effect, the AFC have expressed concern on the quality of such
"Most of the countries who have gone professional or semi-professional
have a restriction on foreign players, so the flow is controlled," said
AFC secretary general Peter Velappan.
"Their presence does not threaten the livelihood of the locals.
"Asian countries are aware going pro or semi-pro will raise the standard
of soccer. But local players must be involved. Foreigners are mainly to
add strength and glamour."
Velappan expressed concern on the flow of average foreign players into
the Asian market.
AFC were also concerned that clubs were dealing with soccer agents not
recognised by Fifa.
Velappan said that AFC and even national associations can help clubs get
good foreign players.
"National associations with good contacts in Europe will certainly have
good relationships with clubs to assist in loaning quality players.
"If there are problems, we can help out.
"Clubs can establish direct contact with their overseas counterparts and
request for assistance. It is easier than dealing with agents."
Velappan said many top clubs in Europe are having difficulties managing
big squads, especially with reserves who are good but cannot find a place
in the first team. Their balance sheet at the end of the year normally
runs into deficits.
"These clubs will be more than happy to loan players for free or even
nomimal fees. This way Asian clubs can be assured of quality players."
Velappan said clubs can even go a step further by arranging exchange
programmes or training stints.
He said some of the foreign players who turn up for trials are of a low
standard, perhaps no better than local Div One players.