Having become one of the top-most leagues in Asia, the Qatar Stars League (QSL) is now striving to match higher standards and to make an imprint of its own professional footballing culture in the country and overseas.
With this aim, the QSL will be embarking on a new strategic development with plans being put in place to restructure the running of clubs, hiring of players and coaches, and to rise to the standards more high, this was revealed by Ahmed Khellil Abbassi, QSL’s Executive Director of Competitions and Football Development.
The new plan of action will also see the number of teams in the QSL being reduced to 10 from the present 12 from 2023-24 season.
QSL is also in the process of constituting a Central Scouting Team (CST) which will look into the clubs’ recruitment policies and guide them with new policies.
“When it comes to football and culture we want the highest quality to attract more fans to the game we want more professional clubs and today we have a league of teams of the highest standards in Asia and we are proud of it,” said Abbassi.
“Our vision was to become one of the best leagues in Asia both on and off the pitch. Definitely, we are now one of the best league countries in Asia but we want to get better in terms of professionalism and football standards.
“When we look at 2022, it’s a special year for us, as we have the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 happening and a World Cup has the highest standards of football. So this year we are going to achieve the highest level of facilities. It is the highest level of a mega sport for a nation and we believe that we are the best in the world. We want this momentum to keep going with highest quality matches even after the World Cup. We want to build a high quality football entertainment,” explained Abbassi.
QSL to be a 10-team league
From the 2023-24 season, the top division will become a 10-team affair and clubs signing a new participation agreement.
“We are working on a strategy for the past couple of years on how to transform the league. What we want is good value for money when it comes to players, coaches, competitiveness, high quality matches and increase in the number of fans. We want the QSL to become a more vibrant league delivering high quality and competitive football entertainment.”
Central Scouting Team
The establishing of the CST, which will start functioning later this year, will help clubs bring in talent that is matched in their philosophy and suited to their requirements.
“We’ve had a large turnover of foreign players and coaches in the past years. So, we are raising the red flag for we believe change is necessary at this point. We are going to educate the clubs, support them and work with them on these changes.”
The CST would help the clubs scout top talent across the globe to come to Qatar. It will also alter its outlook by becoming a sellers’ league instead of just being a buyers’ league.
“We have had several successful players and coaches who didn’t have a great CV while coming here but they made a name for themselves here. We want Qatar to be a hub of talent, where players and coaches can come and hone their talent and also move to other countries.”
“If you look at the QSL players in the last 10 years, a vast majority are not the same as a Xavi or a Santi Cazorla, who had the right mentality -- the same with Andres Iniesta in Japan. These kind of players are always welcome to our league. But CST will give a club all the necessary background before they sign any player -- he could be a big name or a future star, aged 17 or 18. Having this knowledge gives you an advantage as well as an opportunity to succeed.
“The same goes with the coaches too. Someone like Djamel Belmadi (Algeria) and Xavi started their coaching careers here, learned a lot and moved forward. It’s not about bringing big names who have won everything, who don’t the hunger to develop our football. With CST, before they sign a player or a coach, they will know everything about a coach and understand whether he can add value to the team.”
Sporting director for CST
The CST will function under a sporting director and will have an ‘extraordinary’ global network.
“He will be an internationally-recognised name. His duty won’t be just about recruiting the right player but about understanding which player can add value as well in the future, so that a club can sell them or loan them to clubs in Europe. It will also be about how to develop our players and potentially have our players playing outside the country (Qatar).”