Good decision by FFM: Open Balkan players remain foreigners in 1.MFL

FFM did not approve the request by some club for the players coming from the Open Balkan member countries to be counted as domestic.

photo by GFK Tikvesh Kavadarci: a moment of Tikvesh – Shkupi duel

Brera Strumica, Rabotnichki, Sileks and Vardar opened a request asking that the players coming from Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia not to be considered foreign players in the Macedonian top flight. the idea comes from the fact that these countries opened their championship for the Macedonian players, who are now able to be registered in their clubs without taking a spot of a foreign player.

The Football Federation of Macedonia denied this request, so all players who do not have Macedonian passport will be considered foreign in the 1.MFL. It is a very good decision by FFM because allowing something like this to happen will mean a big flow of mediocre cheap foreign players who will occupy playing time at the expense of our home grown players. The Macedonian clubs are still financially not rich enough to be able to compete with the Open Balkan leagues for the quality players. In the past 10 years we have seen many players coming from these countries and 90% of them have been not even better than our domestic players.

The problem lies in the so called managerial games that Macedonians club boards are often drag into. Manager agencies bring mediocre players, often even paying for them to play. Allowing the Open Balkan players rule will only benefit these agencies and not the Macedonian league.

Just as a reminder, only the top flight in Macedonia allows foreign players. The 2.MFL and the leagues bellow can register only Macedonian passport holders. The current rule says that each top flight club may register a maximum of 8 foreign players, but field 5. From those 8, 4 are registered without any fee, while for any additional players the clubs must pay a fee which grows bigger for every additional player. The women’s top flight clubs may have only 5 foreigners.

Open Balkan is an economic and political zone founded by Albania, Macedonia and Serbia, who remain the only members. Its aim is to increase trade and cooperation as well as improve bilateral relations. The original idea was all Western Balkan non-EU members to become part of Open Balkan, but so far Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina have only expressed interest and haven’t joined, while Kosovo rejected it. Despite that, the term is used for all Western Balkan countries.

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