The league committee of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) on Sunday allowed I-League clubs to register six foreigners, including one Asian, on the match-day squad but permitted only four of them (under the prevailing 3+1 rule) in the playing eleven for this season beginning on 29 October.
Last season, the I-League clubs were allowed to register six foreign players but only four, including one Asian, were allowed on the match-day squad.
India head coach Igor Stimac is not a fan of increasing the number of foreigners in the domestic leagues on the ground that less number of Indian players will get to play.
"The League Committee recommended (to the executive committee) to increase the number of foreigners to 5+1 (5 foreigners from anywhere in the world, and one from Asia) in the squad on the match day," the AIFF said in a release after the League Committee meeting.
"However, out of these, a total of four foreigners should be allowed in the playing eleven at any given point of time on a 3+1 basis. While a foreigner on the pitch can be substituted by another foreign player at the bench or by an Indian player, a foreigner of an Asian quota can be replaced by another foreigner of an Asian quota or by an Indian."
The meeting was chaired by new-elected league committee head Lalnghinglova Hmar, who is also an executive committee member. Also present in the meeting were Secretary General Shaji Prabhakaran, Deputy Secretary General Sunando Dhar, among others.
In other major recommendations to the executive committee, Second Division League will have a total of 15 teams from across the country, plus the reserve teams from the ISL and I-League teams, with the final rounds being played on a home-away basis.
"No foreign players will be allowed in the Hero Second Division League. To have a certain number of players under the age of 22 in the squad will no longer be mandatory in the Hero Second Division League." It was also recommended that two teams will be relegated from the I-League to the second division league.
Kenkre Football Club has appealed to the AIFF for retention in the I-League, which the league committee has sympathetically agreed to and the recommendation for the same has been forwarded to the executive committee.
The committee further recommended to the executive committee that to encourage participation of more Indian players, all state leagues across the country should be played without foreign players.
The league committee also suggested that the Indian Women's League (IWL) should be played across multiple venues, in order to broad base the women's game in India.
In another attempt to broad-base the game, the league committee recommended to do away with the licensing criteria in the IWL and the second division league, and the academy accreditations criteria in the youth league.
Santosh Trophy to Be Played in Zonal Basis
The competition committee chaired by P Anilkumar recommended that the Santosh Trophy National Football Championships from now on be played on a zonal basis.
"The Final Round of the competition will have a total of 12 teams (10 qualifying states, along with the Services and the Railways). In the Zonal stage, the states will be divided into seven groups of five to six teams each.
"The seven group toppers and two best second-placed teams, along with the hosts will qualify for the Final Rounds. The Group Stage will get underway in December."
The committee further suggested that the Santosh Trophy format be followed in all other national football championships at all age group level.
The senior Women's National Championships qualifiers will also be held in December.
The committee said that the facilities for the players, especially in terms of travel and stay, should be improved with immediate effect.
The Super Cup tournament will be played at the venues selected by the AIFF in a broad-based manner. The competition will consist of the qualifying rounds, the pre-quarterfinals, the quarterfinals, the semi-finals, and the final.
The committee recommended that all National Youth Championships should be held between December and May.