In the wake of the national team’s disappointing early exit from the 2022 World Cup, Mexican soccer will undergo a significant transformation. Liga MX announced a series of groundbreaking changes aimed at elevating the quality of the league and fostering local talent.

These changes, effective from the Liga MX Apertura 2025 season, include stringent new requirements for foreign signings. There is also the reintroduction of the under-age rule, which mandates playing time for young Mexican players, as per Claro Sports.

One of the most notable changes is the introduction of rigorous criteria for foreign players entering Liga MX. Inspired by the Premier League‘s model, these requirements aim to ensure that only high-caliber players are brought into the league. The criteria are comprehensive and multifaceted, including:

  1. Minimum Playing Minutes in Liga MX: Foreign players must have accumulated a set number of minutes in Liga MX.
  2. Recent Record from Top Leagues: Players must come from recognized leagues in Europe and South America.
  3. Second Division European Players: Players from the second divisions of certain European leagues must have played a minimum number of minutes in the last season.
  4. National Team Experience: Players must have significant playing time in official matches for their senior national teams.
  5. Continental Tournament Experience: Minimum minutes played in continental tournaments.
  6. Youth National Teams: Participation in official FIFA youth competitions.
  7. Under-24 Players: Younger players who do not meet the above criteria.
  8. MLS Franchise Players: Special consideration for franchise players from MLS.
  9. Exemptions: Each club can have two players exempt from these requirements, subject to validation by an Acceptance Committee.

These measures aim to elevate the level of competition within Liga MX by ensuring teams sign only quality foreign players who can contribute significantly.

Return of under-age rule

Another major change is the reintroduction of the under-age rule, effective from the Apertura 2024 season, with a transitional period. This rule, which was initially in place from 2005 to 2011, mandates the inclusion of young Mexican players in matches. Liga MX president Mikel Arriola emphasized the need for continuity in nurturing young talent. He cited statistics that highlight the lack of opportunities for young players to establish themselves.

“The problem is that we don’t give them continuity. Four out of ten young players only play their debut match. Nine out of ten are not considered in their next tournament after their debut. They average less than two matches of minutes. The talent exists; what’s missing is promoting their consolidation”, Arriola stated.

Foreign player limits and how it would affect the league

The regulations for the 2023-24 sporting year specified that teams must include at least 10 players born in Mexico, or with Mexican parents, in their lineups. Additionally, the league limited teams to have a maximum of nine players not trained in Mexico. Moving forward, the rule will limit teams to a maximum of seven players not trained in Mexico, ensuring a substantial portion of each team consists of homegrown talent.

These changes reflect a broader strategy to enhance the quality of domestic players. They would strive to ensure that foreign signings contribute positively to the league’s competitive standard. By enforcing strict requirements for foreign players and promoting the development of young Mexican talent, Liga MX aims to strengthen their teams and improve the national team’s performance on the international stage.

The reintroduction of the under-age rule is expected to provide young players with more opportunities to play and develop. This could potentially lead to a more robust pipeline of talent for the national team. This combines with the new foreign player criteria. Therefore, Liga MX is embracing a significant shift in its approach to building competitive, high-quality teams.