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Sports Minister Bak: Foreign Player Number Could Be Limited

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Turkey may reintroduce a quota to limit the number of foreign footballers in a starting 11, Turkey's Sports and Youth Minister Osman Aşkın Bak has said.

Speaking to the state-broadcaster, TRT Spor on Monday, Bak said, "We may limit the number of foreign footballers taking to field to five or six."

"Youth development in football is very important. Our national team must have footballers coming through our local youth development system. I want to reduce the number of foreign footballers to five or six. If you remember, Galatasaray won the UEFA up with just four foreign footballers."

"We have been negotiating with the Union of Clubs. Some of our clubs, like Altınordu, have been very successful in youth development. Altınordu raised stars like Cengiz Ünder. He is playing for Rome now. Çağlar Söyüncü is playing in Bundesliga. We must also educate our trainers," the minister said.

"Our football federation should help the teams that want to invest in youth development. We have to do this so that our national team can become successful at the international level," he added.

The Turkish Football Federation (TFF) removed limits on the number of foreign players allowed in its teams in 2015. Its main reason was to rein in soaring prices for home-grown players and raise the competitiveness of the game. The move allowed clubs to have 14 domestic and 14 foreign players in their 28-man squads, paving the way for them to field 11 foreign players in matches.

However, the decision faced criticism recently after Galatasaray fielded 11 foreign players in their match against Konyaspor on Oct. 14. Despite winning the tie 2-0, the move was a first in Turkish football history and was criticized by football fans as well as the leader of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) President Devlet Bahçeli.

Prior to the TFF's 2015-decision, a maximum of six foreign players was allowed to play at any one time. Turkey's bigger teams, regulars in Europe's top club competitions, pressed for the rules to be relaxed, claiming the move would make teams fairer and more competitive, and could even benefit Turkey's beleaguered national side.

Turkey is not alone in struggling to find the right balance between domestic and foreign footballers. In England, the Football Association (FA) is also looking at ways to limit the number of non-EU players, amid suggestions that the sharp rise in the number of foreigners plying their trade in English leagues is linked to the national team's lackluster performances.


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