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First steps towards a professional championship in Sri Lanka

  • The inaugural Sri Lankan Super League season has just ended

  • The championship goes from amateur to semi-professional status

  • The FFSL adopts modern club licensing standards and wants to modernize its transfer regulations

Despite the difficulties and interruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, Sri Lanka have just taken another step towards the creation of a professional championship with the end of the first season of their new flagship competition. The Sri Lankan Super League, which took place in the year 2021, received funding of USD 500,000 from FIFA’s Forward programme. In addition, it brought together ten teams with semi-professional status, which is a first at national level. This new championship also made it possible to apply licensing rules to clubs inspired by the directives of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC). The ten participants were chosen according to these criteria.

These rules ensure compliance with a number of standards, taking into account various aspects of club life such as training, medical monitoring, grassroots programmes, protection of minors and anti-corruption measures. racism. The assessment also covered stadiums and equipment. In addition, the clubs had to include in their ranks a general manager, in charge of day-to-day affairs, a finance manager, a security manager in charge of safety and security issues, a doctor, a physiotherapist, a trainer, a assistant coach, a training director and educators for the youth teams. The President of the Football Federation of Sri Lanka (FFSL), Jaswar Umar, had himself launched this initiative, when he was still general secretary. Elected to the presidency in June 2021, he recalled that it was not just a new championship, but a new economic sector bringing more than 300 jobs for players, coaches and leaders. According to him, local businesses have a lot to gain from taking an interest in this new market.

Sri Lanka Super League: Up Country Lions FC vs Red Star FC

“The Super League is a new semi-professional format offered by the federation, with the technical and financial support of FIFA. Such a level has been missing from the Sri Lankan football pyramid for almost 80 years. The Super League is already carrying its fruits: our football has progressed technically and in its organizational capacity. Despite the pandemic, we have carried out this first season successfully. It is a project that will have a lot of positive repercussions on our future.” Blue Star SC from Kalutara District in Western Province won this inaugural edition. He will therefore participate in the preliminary rounds of the 2022 AFC Cup. His striker Shenal Sandesh finishes as top scorer, with ten goals. The team coached by Devasagayam Rajamani totals 22 points in nine matches and completes its course with three lengths ahead of the Sea Hawks and Colombo.

Most of the Sri Lankan internationals took part in this competition, which also included players from Nigeria, Cameroon, Ghana and Japan. The FFSL now wants to apply FIFA standards for the status and transfer of players. The Super League succeeds the Sri Lankan Champions League, an amateur competition held annually between 2009 and 2018. The format and number of teams have varied over time. There were 22 participants in 2016. Club football was one of the topics addressed by FIFA President Gianni Infantino during his visit to Sri Lanka last November. The championship ended with an awards ceremony during which Minister of Youth and Sports Namal Rajapaksa honored the members of the national team that won the South Asian Federation of football (SAFF) for the first and only time in 1995. The minister stressed the need to support the development of Sri Lankan football over the long term, in order to lay the foundations for future commercial success.

Blue Star SC claimed the inaugural Sri Lanka Super League title

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