Imported players are now a part of the football scene all around Asia, and the Myanmar National League, which held its first tournament this year, is determined not to miss out on the action. The winning squad, Yadanarbon FC, had five players from Africa as well as a coach from France. It was a historic moment when one of the imports took the ball for the first time in their first match and the TV announcer, either unable to remember or pronounce his name yelled that, “The foreigner’s got it!”

According to the contract lists, each of these players received a monthly payment of 1500 US dollars to compete in Myanmar. That’s quite a lot more than the domestic players, among whom the highest-paid supposedly received a measly million Kyat, which is less than a thousand US, although some of them received extra money to sign up. It’s also less than some other imports. Two that went to Delta United got 2750 US each, but they don’t seem to have earned it: their club scored only one win and ended up on the bottom of the ladder.

The league’s salary packages are a long, long way away from the multi-million dollar deals that players make in Europe, or even in some other parts of Asia, but are also a big step up on the earnings of its crusty predecessor, which largely consisted of teams belonging to government ministries (Finance and Revenue won again in 2008… how come Army came out on the bottom?) Most of the players in the new league, aside from the imports, were purchased from those teams, and must be happy with the way things are going for their sport, even if by comparison to elsewhere they don’t have too much to show for all that kicking and tackling.

Does anyone know how the system of bringing footballers to Myanmar and other parts of Southeast Asia works? Are these official figures really what the players are getting or is there more to it than that? What else is there to know about the imports business? Maybe New Mandala has some fans–or insiders–who could give more information.