By Neto Baptiste
Two former national footballers have joined the call for the imposing of a limit on the number of foreign players clubs competing in the country’s domestic leagues are allowed to feature during matches.
Former national striker, Everton Richardson, and Conrad Whyte, both agree that there should be rules and or policies governing what they believe has become a rampant and potentially dangerous practice of the unlimited importation of players by clubs.
Richardson, who featured for Five Islands during the mid to late 70s and early to mid-80s, said the practice retards the development of young national players by limiting their game-time exposure.
“How does that help to develop football in Antigua and Barbuda? One of the mandates of the Antigua and Barbuda Football Association is to develop football in Antigua and Barbuda, but how could you develop football in Antigua and Barbuda when you are not giving Antiguans and Barbudans an opportunity to develop,” he said.
“How does it becomes a question of money [winning the grand prize] when you’re paying something, in excess of $100,000 to with $25000? It is about ego more than anything else, and it’s about bragging rights more than anything else, but to the detriment of football in Antigua and Barbuda. I understand that some teams have as much as eight and nine [overseas] players in their line-up, and that does not make any sense whatsoever. Antigua’s football cannot develop with that strategy, we need to expose our players,” he added.
Meanwhile, Whyte who won several scoring titles with a successful Empire football team in the 90s, said a balance must be found and the process regulated by the governing body.
“To the extent that they are bringing these players in, I think it is not fair to the development of the youths in the country. I think that you could have a blend but most teams are doing more than they should be doing and because there is no plan in place, then the association lets them do whatever they want to do. There should be a cap and if you are allowed to bring in two players or if you have five, then only two can play at the same time. Things like that should be put in place,” he said.
Several other former players and officials to include Andy “Gantone” Nesbitt, Quentin Clarke and Ivor Luke have also lobbied for the instituting of a cap on imported players.