PSL must review policies

Sport24 columnist S’Busiso Mseleku (File)
Sport24 columnist S’Busiso Mseleku (File)
The Premier Soccer League (PSL) must revisit some of its principles and policies.

These include the rules and laws governing the signing and fielding of foreign players and the rule that National First Division (NFD) clubs must field at least five Under-23 players in their starting line-up for every match.

Currently, each of the 16 PSL club is allowed to sign five foreign players and can field up to three at any stage of the match.

This means that is all the clubs in the Absa Premiership were to utilise their quota fully there will be 80 foreign players registered with the PSL at any given time and if these players were used in every league game, there will be 48 of the in any batch of eight matches.

Worse still, the criteria used to sign foreign players is not as strict as in some European countries such as England where the rules are so strict that it is almost impossible for a mediocre player to get a contract.

These include the number of caps a player should have had for his country as well as appearances for his nation in the year preceding his singing.

Over the years, from the days when some players came to our shores and played under false names, there has been a few foreigners who have excelled, added value and greatly entertained the football loving masses.

However, as a result of the slack approach adopted by South Africa, we have also seen a number of duds being signed by PSL clubs, both from Europe and the continent.

Some of these players have cost the respective clubs an arm and a leg, not only in monetary terms but also in points during league matches and even knock-out games.

Without being xenophobic or sounding like that, one has often wondered if these slots given to these players, would not have been better utilised by being given to young, up and coming talent instead.

I think signing any player just because they are foreign, robs our youth of part of their development. Just like in any field, my belief is that foreign players must be signed if they have something special that cannot be found locally.

This would enrich our league and raise the level of entertainment.

But using the PSL as a dumping ground for over-the-hill and well spent players is just not kosher.

And then there is the rule that every NFD club must field at least five Under-23 players in their matches and should have the same number of player in this age group at any stage of the match.

This means if an Under-23 player is withdrawn, he must be replaced by a player falling into the same category.

This is unfair to NFD clubs.

And what happens to these players when the club gets promoted to the Absa Premiership?

All this shows up how much cock-eyed our development programme (if there is any) is.

For starters, development is not the core business of the PSL as it is a professional wing. This is the duty of the national association, which in this case is the South African Football Association (SAFA).

The league should be focusing on having a reserve league and individual clubs should be having their own academies to develop young players.

It is Safa that should be running proper age-group leagues.

It was partly for these reasons that FIFA introduced the 6+5 rule in 2008.

This rule was meant to have at least six players who are eligible to play for the national tea in their starting line-up for every match.

Other countries even went further and said there should be a seventh player who must be the goalkeeper, as this is a very key position for any national team.

This is the route we need to follow in this country if we are serious about development.

Pity, that FIFA had to drop this rule due to pressure from the European Union.

But we need to rethink all these scenarios and avoid a situation where dollar signs blind us in such a way that instant success is valued more than development.

The English Premier League even introduced a system where all clubs had to have at least eight home-grown players in a squad of 25 from the 2011/12 season.

We all know what allowing clubs to sign foreign players willy nilly has done the English game. While theirs is arguably the nest league in the world, their national team’s performance on the international scene, leaves much to be desired.

Just like South Africa who are handing on for dear life to the 1996 (17 years ago) Africa Cup of Nations, to this date, the English - who are incidentally the founders of the game of the pigskin - will tell you what a great side they had in 1966 (all 47 years ago) when they won the World Cup on home soil.

We need to avoid copying everything English if we do not want our soccer to go the same route.

S’Busiso Mseleku is regarded as one of Africa's leading sports journalists and an authority on football. He has received some of the biggest awards in a career spanning well over 20 years. He is currently City Press Sports Editor.

Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.
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