AIFF decides on 6 foreigners in I-League teams for 2017-18 season

NEW DELHI: The All India Football Federation executive committee Tuesday ruled that I-league clubs can sign up to six foreign players, two of whom must be from a country under the Asian Football Confederation.

In a letter sent Tuesday to all I-League, the AIFF further said that the maximum number that can be fielded is five, out of which at least one must be from an AFC country. 

There's a caveat regarding how they can be fielded: the foreign player under AFC quota can only be replaced by another player from an AFC country; which can be any player from India, any other country in Asia or Australia.

In the past, the I-League has allowed four foreigners per squad, the same number of overseas players that clubs are allowed to field in AFC tournaments.

The decision comes following a proposal by East Bengal, Mohun Bagan and Churchill Brothers that the top division league clubs should have the same number of foreign players as the parallel tournament Indian Super League, which allows teams to sign eight foreigners with five being allowed on the field.

Many I-League clubs, including Minerva Punjab, Chennai City FC and champions Aizawl FC, strongly disagreed with this proposal, saying the top division league should not de-emphasize the focus on Indian players. 

The I-League will begin in November, around the same time as the ISL, which has fixed its kick-off date for the fourth season as 17 November.