Liga MX passes rule limiting number of foreign-born players on game rosters

Edgar Castillo, Paul Arriola, Greg Garza

Liga MX club owners approved on Monday a rule that will limit the number of foreign-born players allowed on each matchday squad to 10, a measure that will have serious implications for US-born players based in Mexico and could conceivably dissuade some Mexican-Americans from leaving MLS for Liga MX in the future. 

Known as the 10/8 rule, the measure was designed to curb the rapid naturalization of foreign-born players by ensuring that at least eight players born in Mexico are included in each 18-player gameday roster. Under the rule, naturalized Mexicans and US-born Mexican-Americans will now count as foreigners.

The previous rule allowed each team to field five foreigners and an unlimited number of naturalized Mexicans.

There is a special clause in the rule for dual citizens of Mexico and the US. Previously, the right to Mexican citizenship for anyone who had one parent born in Mexico meant that Mexican-American players were counted as Mexicans when registered with Liga MX.

That’s changed under the new rule, which states that “players with dual Mexican-American nationality will be considered as one of the eight [Mexican] players if when they first register with the FMF [Mexican federation] they haven’t reached 19 years.”

That clause means players like Omar Gonzalez, Luis Gil and Jorge Villafaña, all of whom moved from MLS to Liga MX following the 2015 MLS season, will no longer be classified as Mexicans by Liga MX. Those three players, along with other US-born Mexican-Americans like Greg Garza and Jonathan Bornstein, will each have to battle with other foreign-born players for one of just 10 spots on each gameday roster.

Liga MX passes rule limiting number of foreign-born players on game rosters -

Players like US national team defenders Edgar Castillo and Ventura Alvarado (pictured above) and 18-year-old Alex Zendejas, who moved from FC Dallas to Chivas Guadalajara in June, will still be classified as Mexican by Liga MX because they registered with the FMF before turning 19.

The new rule will likely alter the equation for US-born Mexican-Americans thinking of moving from MLS to Liga MX.

Instead of not facing any restrictions on whether or not they’d be able to take the field, Mexican-Americans who don’t register with the FMF until after they turn 19 will now have to compete for just one of 10 foreign spots on every gameday roster.

Conversely, it could make joining a Liga MX side more attractive for Mexican-American players – whether they’re fully professional or in an academy – who would be able to register with the FMF before turning 19 and thereby count as a Mexican on a Liga MX roster.