Ambiguous reform and criticism from Semak
The new limit on foreign players adopted on the eve of the RFU Executive Committee, which will take effect in the RPL from the 2020/21 season, has caused a lot of controversy among fans and experts. Some consider it a blessing, and others - a frank harm to Russian football.
So far, it should be recognized that the new version of the limit is rather intermediate and satisfies both the interests of most clubs, which oppose any restrictions, and the interests of the leadership of domestic football.
For Russian players, the “8 + 17” scheme may cause discontent, because now they will not have five guaranteed positions in the starting lineup of any RPL team. Accordingly, the head coaches will be able to determine the roster, regardless of the availability of the desired passport.
The struggle for a place at the heart of the top clubs, where the strongest Russians and legionaries will enter the field, will be especially acute. Thus, the new version of the limit can also lead to the reluctance of the leading players of medium-sized RPL teams to increase, because they will be much more difficult to play there than before.
On the other hand, in the application of each team of the Premier League there will be 17 Russians, and many of the positions will probably be taken up by their own students and young performers, some may be included there for quantity.
As for the legionaries, the number of average foreigners, who by their level are not much higher than the Russians, will have to be reduced. The application will remain only the strongest players from other countries.
However, the reduction in the number of foreign players in the application also has a reverse side of the medal, which will affect, first of all, the top clubs playing in European competitions. They will obviously have less opportunity to rotate the lineup, breaking into two, or even three fronts - European tournaments, championship and national cup.
And if earlier the coaching staff could count on an unlimited number of legionnaires, now it will not be able to go beyond the agreed framework. At the same time, injuries and disqualifications can significantly limit the choice.
It is not surprising that one of the first new limit system was criticized by Zenit head coach Sergey Semak. He complained that the innovation will only inflate the salaries of Russian football players and "significantly reduce the potential of domestic clubs to play in Europe."
How Mutko canceled the limit "10 + 15" and why in Cyprus there is no one to take in the national team
One way or another, it is necessary to recognize that changing the limit system is unlikely to fundamentally affect the level of the Russian league. On the one hand, the leaders of the national football went to soften the limit, and on the other, they themselves increased the number of Russians in the application.
This raises big questions, from where the clubs will take the required number of homegrown players.
Many coaches, including Semak, say that the “10 + 15” scheme would be ideal, but it’s not worth waiting for its adoption in the near future, although at the end of 2014 the RFU executive committee by a majority of votes voted for this option. But then the Minister of Sport Vitaly Mutko spoke against innovation.
It is curious that in most European countries, in which the limit on foreign players had previously acted, it was, one way or another, relaxed. Indicative example of Turkey. In the early 2000s, strict restrictions were established in the local Super League: the same eight foreigners could be included in the application, while only six of them had the opportunity to enter the field.
In the end, the restrictions led to the fact that the salaries of Turkish football players rose sharply, and the clubs began to actively attract middle-level players from Turkey with Turkish roots who were eligible to receive a passport and were not considered legionnaires in the Super League.
In 2015, the leadership of local football almost canceled the limit: now there can be up to 14 foreigners in the season application, and up to 11 in the application for the match.
However, in one form or another, the limit is valid in almost all European championships. Often it refers to the number of players from non-EU countries. One of the rare exceptions is Cyprus.
In the local top league, restrictions on legionnaires do not work at all, which clubs actively use. The absence of Cypriots in the starting lineup of both teams for the next league match is already a familiar picture for the local championship.
On the one hand, this led to an increase in the level of the national championship at the expense of attracting, albeit medium, but quality legionnaires. As a result, in the last decade, local teams regularly get to the group stages of European competition.
On the other hand, the Cyprus team is experiencing serious problems and finds football players with difficulty. This led to the fact that the federation began to actively naturalize the legionnaires who had long been on the island. So, Portuguese Renata Margas and Spaniard Rafael Urca Pardo were in the starting lineup for the recent match with Russia, and Serbia Matia Shpolarich came to replace him.
Headache for Zenit and questions to Krasnodar
For most Russian clubs, the new limit will not be a problem, since they cost a relatively small number of foreign players. So, in the rookie RPL "Sochi" at the moment there are only three foreigners, and in the roster "Rubin" - four.
But the difficulties will arise in the top clubs who can afford a dozen legionnaires. For example, Zenit currently has 14 players from other countries at once, and six of them will have to be abandoned in the coming year.
However, if we consider the list of St. Petersburg legionnaires closer, it turns out that the loss of some of them is unlikely to become a problem for the team. For example, Mikha Mevlya played for Petrograd only at the beginning of the season, and then turned out to be on the bench and went on loan to Rostov.
Matias Kranevitter played only six matches in the RPL (not a single one) and became a hero of Internet memes. The same number of games in the account of Emanuel Mammany, who was recovering for a long time after a severe knee injury. Star newcomer Claudio Marchisio, who missed the entire spring part of the season, entered the field nine times.
Nor does Ernani and Robert Mack look irreplaceable for the team, and Christian Noboa turned 34 in April.
Without visible problems, he should get rid of a few extra legionaries and Lokomotiv, which includes 11 foreigners.
Exactly ten legionaries in Spartak, but the red and white can soon say goodbye to three of them at once: Jano Ananidze, Salvatore Bokketti and Zé Luis.
Krasnodar will have a harder time. Given the summer transfer campaign in the Southerners already have nine legionaries. At the same time, the club management, according to unconfirmed information, is actively interested in several more. It makes life easier for the team that captain Alexander Martynovich is not considered a foreigner recently, and Ari received a Russian passport.