posted on 01/05/2012: 717 views
Pro League Committee (PLC) Deputy Chairman Abdulla N Al Junaibi believes the league's adoption of the Asian Football Confederation's (AFC) 3+1 foreign player rule as aided UAE clubs in the Champions League.
Prior to this season, the clubs were allowed to field three foreign players domestically, making it tough for clubs competing in Asia. Some clubs signed an additional Asian player for the Champions League, but they would only be eligible for that competition.
That changed ahead of the fourth edition of the Pro League with all 12 clubs now able to field four foreign players, of which one must be Asian. Speaking at an extraordinary meeting of the PLC Board of Directors, Al Junaibi confirmed the rule would be kept domestically for the next two seasons at least.
"Previously we had three foreign players and now it is 3+1 like in the AFC,” he said. "We mentioned here that there are no changes in terms of the 3+1 rule, we are using the same as the AFC regulations it will not be changed.”
The fortunes of the UAE sides in Asia, especially those from Abu Dhabi, have greatly improved this season. Al Jazira have qualified for the last 16 with two games to spare while Bani Yas are in strong contention to make it out of Group B.
In turn, the Pro League has risen two places from seventh to fifth in AFC rankings, and Al Junaibi told Sport360° that the rule change had been a factor. "I think it has, especially as all of the four clubs who are playing in the AFC Champions League are playing 3+1 domestically as AFC regulation. So it is better to have it internally before going internationally,” he added.
"It is one of the factors, but really this is the fourth Pro League season and there have been a lot of developments from year one until now. What is happening now is a good result, even if some of the clubs don't go to the round of 16, we can see that our clubs are really playing and doing well reflecting the improvement. Last year the UAE were No7 in AFC, now we are No5, which means there is development which also reflects the results of these teams in AFC competition.” – Sport 360°
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