Foreign imports continue to dominate transfer market in Cyprus

first_imgBy Andreas VouDESPITE having the highest number of foreign players in Europe last season, Cypriot football clubs are showing no signs of changing their ways with the great majority of new signings this summer having come from abroad.CIES Football Observatory’s annual demographic study for 2013 revealed that 64% of players in the Cypriot first division were foreign, the most of any other European league. This approach from the local football clubs has, over time, led to a devastating effect on nearly all aspects of Cypriot football, at both club and international level yet the island’s teams continue to add fuel to the fire.The transfer window for Cypriot football clubs only re-opened on July 1 but most have already completed a number of signings ahead of the new season.Five out of the 12 first division clubs have made over 10 transfers this summer. Doxa have made the most with 19, of which 17 are overseas players. Omonia have recruited 17, Salamina 15, while Ermis and Ethnikos Achna have made 10 apiece, of which over 75% are foreign.League champions APOEL are the ones setting the best example for the time being, with the signings of three Cypriot players including Giorgos Efrem from Omonia, and just one foreign import.It is deeply concerning that not even two weeks have passed since the opening of the transfer window yet a whopping 108 transfers have been completed by the 12 first division clubs. Just 25 of those signings have been Cypriot players meaning that 76.85% of all new recruits this summer are from abroad, far exceeding the league’s already sky-high average of 64%.But this is not down to simple mismanagement, it is a deliberate ploy. The Cypriot first division has been infiltrated and is now controlled by third-party companies and corrupt agents with the cooperation of leading figures within the football clubs. Their profit depends on a high turnover of players. It’s therefore little surprise that the Cypriot league also comes first for highest transfer frequency in Europe with an average of 14 transfers per club each season, and players switching teams every 1.8 years on average.The financial crisis cannot be used as an excuse either. Sure, it damaged the financial stability of most clubs but, if anything, the crisis was an opportunity for the teams to start from scratch, to invest in academies which would produce local players and create a sustainable system.Until not long ago, the Cypriot national football team, while never threatening to qualify for a major tournament, would prove a decent challenge for plenty of visiting nations in competitive matches. However, due to local players not being given the opportunities and experience at club level, the pool of Cypriots to choose from has decreased as has the quality. This has been reflected in the results which have seen the national team amass just four victories in the last five years.Unfortunately, however, as long as the system allows the clubs and transfer brokers to remain unregulated, the problem will continue. Clubs will continue to sweep deeper problems under the carpet while the select few reap the short-term benefits.The only measure brought in to try to change things has been the reduction on the limit of permitted foreign players per 25-man squad, to 15 from last year’s 17. However, it doesn’t seem to be making much of a difference.last_img