The operators of the Indian Super League (ISL), Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL), have released new Coach & Player Selection Guidelines for the 2021-22 season. As part of the player selection aspect, all the teams participating in the league in the upcoming league season will have to field a minimum of seven Indian players in their Starting XI. Furthermore, the same number of players need to be on the pitch from each team at any point in time.
This guideline essentially means the maximum number of foreign players on the field can now be eight in total, comprising both teams. The inaugural season allowed six foreign players per team and saw the likes of Luis Garcia, Freddie Ljungberg, Robert Pires, and Alessandro del Piero participating, helping the league grab a lot of eyeballs in India and internationally. The maximum quota for foreign players was reduced to five from the 2017-18 season.
In line with the Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) club competitions’ regulations, a maximum of six foreign players can be part of a team squad, out of which one needs to be from an AFC member nation. To continue with the push to develop Indian talent, FSDL has also decided to increase the minimum Indian development player quota from two to four per squad. Out of four, at least needs to a part of all match-day squads.
A club participating in the Indian Super League henceforth can have a maximum squad strength of 35 players, with injury replacements allowed for Indian players. The salary cap for the squad remains unchanged at INR 16.5 crore.
The Indian Super League, popularly known as the ISL, has played a significant role in the scouting and development of young Indian talent over the years, the likes of Anish Rai and Nadong Bhutia. The ISL is the first-division league in the country currently after the I-League was demoted as the second division after consultations with the AFC.