By Farrokh Hesabi

Iran football threatened by players exodus to Qatar

October 31, 2020 - 13:7

TEHRAN - Iran has seen an increasing number of football players going to the Qatar Stars League (QSL) in recent years.

The statistics show eight Iranian stars will play in the new season of the Qatari leagues.

The destination of the most Iranian players is the wealthy Qatari teams. The majority of elite players ply their trade in Qatar, and this is a trend that is increasing year by year.

It is followed by leagues such as Belgium, Russia, England, Portugal, Turkey, the Netherlands, Denmark, Turkey, Greece, Croatia, Ukraine, and China who have seen Iranian stars in their leagues.

Iran iconic forward Sardar Azmoun, who plays for Russian club Zenit Saint Petersburg, has been valued around €20m by Transfer Market. The other Iran national player Alireza Jahanbakhsh joined the English side Brighton & Hove Albion from Dutch club AZ Alkmaar for an undisclosed club-record fee, reported to be £17m.

But most of the other Iranian players who have gone abroad in recent years, preferred to sign with the teams of the lower European leagues such as Portugal and Belgium with not very considerable contract fees.

However, many experts believe that playing in Europe – even in the lower European leagues – is far better for Iranian players than in the leagues of countries like Qatar. They say that playing in such Asian leagues will not help the Iranian talents to improve their career.

Ali Karimi, former Esteghlal midfielder, was the latest one who opted to go to the QSL as he joined Qatar SC on Friday. He has joined other players such as Rouzbeh Cheshmi (Umm Salal), Shoja Khalilzadeh (Al-Rayyan), and Mehdi Torabi and Mehrdad Mohammadi (Al-Arabi) in leaving the IPL.

The Iranian Professional League (IPL) does not have the needed facilities to keep the Iranian football talents for a long time.

The Iranian clubs' financial problems and the unexpected drop of Iran’s currency value are the reasons behind the move for the player exodus.

For many Iranian clubs’ directors, it is inevitable to let their stars leave the team and play abroad.  These transfers can help the Iranian teams to benefit financially, but the problem is that most of the players join the foreign clubs as free agents and their former Iranian clubs gain nothing!

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