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In a bid to improve the quality of foreign players in the country, the clubs will have to shell out money on a marquee player…

The All India Football Federation (AIFF) will make it mandatory for clubs to buy one star player as part of their foreign contingent starting the 2014-15 season, as was discussed in the Emergency Committee meeting on Monday.

The AIFF have already allowed the clubs to field four foreign players, of which one has to be an Asian, in the line-up. Given that the quality of the foreign players has been far from impressive and in a bid to raise the profile of the beautiful game in the country, the AIFF wants each club in the I-League to spend big on signing one top quality foreign international.

“We have proposed this but it won’t be effective from this year as the time is too short. We will inform the clubs this year so that they are ready for next season. Whatever the number of foreigners for next year at least one of them has to be an Icon player,” Sunando Dhar, the I-League CEO told Goal.

On being asked to define the ‘Icon’ player, he mentioned that the process to do the same is still being pondered upon. However an option being discussed is to go the Australian way where the federation have defined the marquee player as “one whose salary would be allowed to be outside the salary cap on the grounds that he would bring value to the club and league both on and off the field.”

The arrivals of Alessandro Del Piero, Shinji Ono and Emile Heskey in the A-League has seen more than 2.8 million viewers tune in this season while the average audiences at the stadium were up by 23%.  

“We would be defining that. One way of doing it is to do like the Australians have. Another way of defining is that those players should have represented in the final phase of the World Cup or a European championship or an African Cup of Nations or the Copa America or the Asian Cup. The idea is that at least one quality player comes in,” Dhar explained.

“If clubs spend to buy a quality player maybe they have to spend less to buy other foreign players who aren’t really worth it. We have to control the quality of foreigners,” he added.