Football clubs that do not use foreigners

Despite the arrival of more and more external investors to world football, which in most cases means that some of the traditions or characteristics of the clubs are lost, there are still some exceptions of institutions that manage to respect its philosophies implemented for many decades.

In this group we find clubs that, for example, only play with players from their country, that is, they do not hire foreigners and that makes them institutions that usually have the respect of the majority of national fans in addition to being one of the main providers of footballers to their respective national teams, although this way of managing the club can affect competitiveness in the sense that other teams have much broader markets when signing new players.

Want to know more about this? These are some of the most important clubs in that regard.

CD Guadalajara (Mexico)

It is very likely that, along with Athletic Club de Bilbao, this is the best-known case in the world of clubs that do not play with foreigners, although it was not always the case since the foundation of the club in 1906 was thanks to the will of Edgar Everaert and Calixto Gas. The first was Belgian and the second French, so they laid the foundations for the birth of a football club in the city of Guadalajara with the particularity that only Mexican and French players were allowed.

In the 1920s, that policy became stricter and only Mexican players would be allowed, and as professionalism began in Mexico in the 1940s, the general perception is that CD Guadalajara has had no foreign players. Although it is one of the most successful clubs in Mexico, mainly due to their success in the 1950s and 1960s, in recent years it has found it logically difficult to win trophies.

The idea of the club has always been to be the base for the Mexican national team at all levels, which is why they have a great focus on their youth teams, which are spread across almost all categories of Mexican football. The Chivas philosophy is more than just a club tradition, since said policy is included in the institution's statutes, which transcends any president, manager or coach who may pass through the club. However, that is only limited to the players as Guadalajara has had a large number of foreign coaches throughout its history.

CD El Nacional (Ecuador)

The Ecuadorian club was founded in 1960 when Captain Hugo Enderica decided to form a sports institution that would only have Ecuadorian players and that would serve to represent the national armed forces within the sport, hence, at present, the majority of the club's members they are members of said forces, both active and retired.

Being the club of the Ecuadorian armed forces, they have a direct relationship with the national team since, due to their good work in forming players and their politics, they used to be one of the main teams that contribute football players to the different national teams of Ecuador.

With this policy, El Nacional confirmed itself as one of the most successful clubs in the country, only behind Barcelona SC and CS Emelec, although since 2020 it has been playing in Ecuador's Serie B, that is, in the second level of the Ecuadorian football.

Malavan FC (Iran)

In 1968, coach Bahman Salehnia founded the club that would soon become the property of the Iranian Navy, establishing the philosophy of only playing with Iranian footballers that is respected to this day. As in the previous cases, this policy is limited to only the players, that is, in the club's history there have been foreign coaches, although that list is only reduced to the Croatian Dragan Skocic and the Serbian Stevan Mojsilovic.

Guadalajara and El Nacional are two important teams in their respective countries, but the case of Malavan is different: it is a club with less impact that has had steps through the second division of Iran although it is currently in the Pro League of the Persian Gulf (Iranian first division) and the main trophies in their cabinet are three Hazfi cups, the local cup of the country.

Athletic Bilbao

Athletic Bilbao (Spain)

The most famous club in the world for maintaining a philosophy of signing only national players is Athletic club de Bilbao (or simpy Athletic Bilbao), which even takes that philosophy to a new level since the players who can wear the club shirt must meet the requirement of being Basque which includes both Navarrese and French Basques, although it has been expanding to players who have been trained in football in the Basque Country.

Despite popular belief, the philosophy of Athletic Bilbao does not date from the foundation of the institution since football was brought to Spain (not only to the Basque Country) by the English, so they were part of the football clubs that born throughout the Iberian country, including Athletic Bilbao. That was until 1911 when the Spanish Federation prohibited clubs from using foreign players, something that would change over the years, but Los Leones decided not to incorporate players not born in the region because the Basques dominated Spanish football and also due to the fact that the players from the Basque Country were in great quantity in all the Spanish clubs.

At that time it was not a philosophy, rather it was that there was no need to sign foreigners and in the 1950s, more specifically in the 1958 Copa del Generalissimo final (equivalent to the current Copa del Rey), they won 2- 0 to Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium, a team that had Di Stefano, Gento and Kopa and that ended up being champions of La Liga and the European Cup that same year. The president of Athletic Bilbao at that time, Enrique Guzmán, publicly expressed his pride in defeating a team of world stars with only players from the region and from that achievement, the current philosophy was born that has had small modifications over time.

Something remarkable about these clubs that maintain this philosophy today is the fact that despite the difficulties that this may bring, they maintain that idea and look for alternatives to increase their competitiveness without losing the traditions of the institution. While reviewing the history of these clubs, it is clear that they have been affected in recent times in terms of sporting success.
Nathan Annan is from South Africa and loves to write, and above all about his favorite sport, football. Nathan's interest in football was sparked late but after watching a few matches in his hometown of Johannesburg during the 2010 South Africa World Cup, he was hooked.