Foreign player limit and historical amnesia

ARDA ALAN IŞIK
ISTANBUL
Published 22.08.2017 00:26

Be it through the Einstein quote, "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them" or by using the millennial phrase "I cannot believe I'm still protesting this thing," no matter how you put it, the absurdity of revolving around a single problem without realizing the real issue will only result in frustration.

Let's face it, the long-debated foreign players limit in the Turkish league have done nothing to improve the number of local talents it produces and if truth be told, the mentality that sees a direct relationship between the development of young Turkish talents and the amount of time they play football, clearly misses the mechanism in which a football player develops himself. To see a clear proof that there is no connection whatsoever between a foreign player restrictions and bringing up young local talents one must look no further than Israel, Belarus or Romania, the only countries in Europe (UEFA) that impose limits. Though some countries like Italy, Greece, and Spain also have restrictions, since they are based in the European Union, not all their players are native, naturally. In addition, Germany, England, Portugal, and Netherlands have no restriction whatsoever, thus giving teams the luxury to compete without featuring a single native player on the squad!

But, is that really the case? Do German, English, Portuguese or Dutch teams have completely abandoned local players? Or do teams in Israel, Belarus, and Romania play better football thanks to the to the foreign players limit?

It is crystal clear that there is little connection between a foreign players limit and producing world class local talents. In fact, the restriction only helps low-quality native players take advantage of a closed economic system and secure unrealistic contracts, delivering virtually nothing. Given the fact that there are not enough high-quality foreign players to threaten their position, the locals do not strive to improve themselves.

The clubs on the other hand simply do not opt for young talents. They continue to choose from a ready pool and eventually hiring low-quality players for the same amount. Without having any long-term policies or the will to sacrifice short-term success, talent production can never become a priority for the clubs.

Even though the limit in Turkey was revised two years ago, no significant improvement has been observed on the national team. With the exceptions of Cengiz Ünder, Enes Ünal and Yusuf Yazıcı just two years ago, key players in the Turkish national team were born and raised in other countries, especially in Germany or those playing in other European leagues.

The unpleasant truth is Turkish football's youth system collapsed many years ago and should revive itself with new philosophies. If we want to see more successful, young Turkish players playing for the national team and the big guns in the Turkish Super League, we have to make sure our players get the best education and play in a competitive league which is not filled with unfit foreign players in their thirties. But not by restraining clubs, rather by rewarding them when they opt for young local talent.

Nevertheless, as long as football has its place in the neoliberal economic system, this dichotomy between raising young players and achieving overnight success will be there. Only those who can see that football is a simple collective action between 11 individuals will be able to overcome that dichotomy by trusting their own players and by not becoming dependent on imports.

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