How many foreign players are allowed in top Asian leagues as compared to India?

In the Indian domestic club football structure, two leagues run parallely - the Indian Super League (ISL) and the I-League. Winners of both the leagues get a place in the continental competitions administered by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).

The player regulations in both the ISL and the I-League are pretty similar. For the upcoming 2019-20 season, and ISL club can register a minimum of six foreigners and an optional seventh in their squads. I-League clubs can have a maximum of six but both leagues allow only five foreigners on the pitch at any given time during a game.



In contrast to regulations of the continental competitions, both the Indian leagues allow clubs to field more foreigners. Clubs participating in the ACL and the AFC Cup are allowed to field and register only four foreigners out of which one should be from an AFC member nation - the 3+1 rule. Until 2016-17, the I-League had the same rule in place.

In the AFC Club Competitions ranking, India are placed 14th. Goal takes a look at the foreign player regulations in the top thirteen national club leagues of Asia including Malaysia (16th), who have a direct group stage slot in the ACL, unlike India; and Oman, whose national team India faces along with Qatar in the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

Chennaiyin Manang Marshyangdi AFC Cup

China

National Team Ranking - 73rd; 8th in Asia.

Chinese Super League Playing XI Squad
Foreign Player Quota 3 4


CSL clubs get 3 automatic group stage and 1 playoff spot in the ACL. Also, a CSL club cannot register more than six foreigners during the course of the season, while only four can be with the squad at a time.

Qatar

National Team Ranking - 55th; 5th in Asia.

Qatar Stars League Playing XI Squad
Foreign Player Quota 5 (3+1+1) 9


QSL clubs get 2 automatic group stage and 2 playoff spots in the ACL. While QSL follows the 3+1 rule much like the ACL, an additional fifth foreigner is allowed on the pitch only if the player originates from a Union of Arab Football Associations (UAFA) member nation.

South Korea

National Team Ranking - 37th; 3rd in Asia.

K League 1 Playing XI Squad
Foreign Player Quota 4 (3+1) 4


K League 1 clubs get 3 automatic group stage and 1 playoff spot in the ACL.

Iran

National Team Ranking - 20th; 1st in Asia.

Persian Gulf Pro League Playing XI Squad
Foreign Player Quota 4 (3+1) 4


Pro League clubs get 2 automatic group stage and 2 second round preliminary spots in the ACL.

Andres Iniesta Vissel Kobe

Japan

National Team Ranking - 28th; 2nd in Asia.

J1 League Playing XI Squad
Foreign Player Quota 5 No Limit


J1 League clubs get 2 automatic group stage and 2 playoff spots in the ACL. Technically, a club can field a side without a single Japanese players because foreigners from J.League's nine partner nations (Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, Singapore, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia and Qatar) are exempt from these restrictions.

Saudi Arabia

National Team Ranking - 69th; 7th in Asia.

Saudi Professional League Playing XI Squad
Foreign Player Quota 7 7


The most liberal league in Asia in terms of foreign player participation, SPL clubs get 3 automatic group stage and 1 playoff spot in the ACL.

United Arab Emirates

National Team Ranking - 67th; 6th in Asia.

UAE Pro-League Playing XI Squad
Foreign Player Quota 4 No Limit


Pro League clubs get 3 automatic group stage and 1 playoff spot in the ACL.

Thailand

National Team Ranking - 116th; 20th in Asia.

Thai League 1 Playing XI Squad
Foreign Player Quota 7 (3+1+3) 7


Thai League 1 clubs get 1 automatic group stage and 2 second round preliminary spots in the ACL. In addition to the basic 3+1 rule, Thai clubs have the option to field three additional foreigners who are players from ASEAN countries.

Iraq

National Team Ranking - 77th; 9th in Asia.

Iraqi Premier League Playing XI Squad
Foreign Player Quota 3 3


Iraqi Premier League clubs get 1 automatic group stage and 1 second round preliminary spot in the ACL.

Uzbekistan

National Team Ranking - 82nd; 10th in Asia.

Uzbekistan Super League Playing XI Squad
Foreign Player Quota 5 (4+1) 5


USL clubs get 1 automatic group stage and 2 second round preliminary spots in the ACL. Uzbek clubs have to field an Asian player as their fifth foreigner.

Perth Glory v Sydney FC A-League grand final

Australia

National Team Ranking - 43rd; 4th in Asia.

A-League Playing XI Squad
Foreign Player Quota 5 5


A-League clubs get 2 automatic group stage and 1 second round preliminary spot in the ACL. A-League clubs can sign more than their five allotted 'visa players' if, players born have since gone on to gain Australian citizenship (and New Zealand citizenship, in the case of Wellington Phoenix), or, Australian citizens (and New Zealand citizens, in the case of Wellington Phoenix) who have chosen to represent another national team, or, a foreign Guest Player (eligible to play a maximum of fourteen games).

Philippines

National Team Ranking - 126th; 24th in Asia.

Philippines Football League Playing XI Squad
Foreign Player Quota 4 (3+1) 4


PFL clubs get 1 first round preliminary spot in the ACL, just like India. But, they are also assured two additional automatic group stage slots in the AFC Cup.

Jordan

National Team Ranking - 98th; 16th in Asia.

Jordanian Pro League Playing XI Squad
Foreign Player Quota 3 3


JPL clubs get 1 first round preliminary spot in the ACL, just like India. Also, they are assured two additional automatic group stage slots in the AFC Cup. Interestingly, a foreign signing cannot be a goalkeeper in the JPL.

Malaysia

National Team Ranking - 159th; 32nd in Asia.

Malaysia Super League Playing XI Squad
Foreign Player Quota 5 (3+1+1) 5


MSL clubs get 1 automatic group stage and 1 second round preliminary spot in the ACL. In addition to the basic 3+1 rule, Malaysian clubs have the option to field an additional foreigner from an ASEAN country.

Oman

National Team Ranking - 86th; 12th in Asia.

Oman Professional League Playing XI Squad
Foreign Player Quota 4 (3+1) 4


The ACL has no Omani representation but OPL clubs get 1 automatic group stage and 1 playoff spot in the AFC Cup. The Omani league is ranked 28th in Asia.