Taiwan’s Bureaucratic Barriers Stop development of Royal Blues Players

Taiwan is known for being a bureaucratic mess, any task that needs to be completed at government offices, banks or other similar institutions needs a mountain of paperwork, and that mountain of paperwork needs a minimum of 3 stamps per page then double checked by an overload. Recently I heard a story of similar such nonsense taking place in the Taiwanese Premier League.

Royal Blues Football Club in Taipei is the only expat team playing at the top level of Taiwanese football, they are predominantly an expat team; set up locally by a man affectionately known as ‘Polish Rob’. They have made giant strides forward as a club since the comical beginnings where the CTFA (Chinese Taipei Football Association) shafted them by preposterously changing the rules for the league qualifiers stating only 3 foreigners are allowed to play in games. A farcical search by Royal Blues management to find enough Taiwanese players to still play the qualifiers ended in hidings and ultimately not qualifying for the league. Polish Rob and Royal Blues were left undeterred, the CTFA changed the rules back to allowing foreigners in the league and the Blues haven’t looked back – now they’re even setting up an Under 23 team.

The reason for the Under 23 team is two-pronged, firstly Royal Blues know they can’t keep up the same level by having a large turnover of players every season as foreigners will constantly come and go, secondly they want to integrate and develop local Taiwanese players at the club. Currently, they are the only team in the Taiwanese Premier League to even think about setting up a youth team to develop young players. This is to be applauded due to them having fewer resources than the big two Datong, and Taipower.   

During this phase searching for Taiwanese players, they found two high school students who they thought were capable of playing at a good level and registered them for the season ahead. All well and good, the young players get a chance to play at the highest level in the country and Royal Blues get two players who could potentially play for them for a prolonged time period. Unfortunately, this is where the bureaucratic mess kicks in.

Unbeknown to Royal Blues management, the high school association players are banned from playing in the Taiwanese first division. They were told categorically that these two boys must be unregistered from the team. Royal Blues accepted this, so now the two boys could only play high school football; however, things took a turn for the worse when a parent of one of the boys moved him to a different school. Once at the new school the boy went to ask about playing football, he was told he couldn’t because he is registered for another. So now the boy cannot play any football, which is obviously blocking the progress he was making.

When Royal Blues management found out that he now couldn’t play for his school they went back to the CTFA / High School Association to ask if they could re-register him. Again they were told no, due to him being registered for the first school he was at. Still leaving the boy unable to play any football.

Whoever is dealing with football in Taiwan needs a dose of common sense knocked into them, because it makes no sense to block these two boys when they are at a point in their football development where they need to keep playing, but as often is the case in Taiwan common sense doesn’t prevail. Such autocratic bureaucracy should have no place in the development of young players.

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