Have you ever heard of marquee player? Confused with the meaning when you read it in some sports news?

Marquee players in Indonesian Liga 1. Source: FourFourTwo

If you think marquee player is foreign star player recruited by a local team then you are not entirely wrong.

By definition, a marquee player is an athlete who is considered exceptionally popular, skilled, or otherwise outstanding, and exempt from the salary cap. In fact, a marquee player status is more to popularity than skill, he is like a celebrity of the sports who attracts people to watch the game. He is like a cameo in a movie. And for that role, he is paid higher than average players in the league. In fact, many marquee players are already past their prime. They come from A-class leagues in Europe to lower class leagues in America, Asia, and Australia.

While skill and popularity are hard to measure, the salary is not. The simplest indicator of a marquee player is he is paid beyond the salary cap of the league. If the league's salary cap is 10,000 dollars, then any players who got paid beyond that amount are marquee players. Or if the salary cap of a team is 500,000 dollars, then marquee players salary are excluded from the cap.

Marquee players or designated players usually recruited to improve the quality and popularity of certain sports in the country. But there is a limit for marquee players, each team usually allowed to recruit only 1-3 marquee players.

The success story of this is the Australian League (A-League). Viewers of A-League games are increasing and fans are buying merchandises thanks to international football stars in the league. FFA said that marquee players add buzz to football in Australia. The newest marquee player to join A-League is the Japan international player Keisuke Honda. He is particularly special because Honda joined when he was 32 years old, considerably still in his prime.

People love celebrity, that's why clubs recruit marquee players. That's the easiest way to get people's attention (and money). Maybe marquee players can share their experience playing in high-level competition with the young players, but the main motive for clubs to recruit such players is business, not sports. After all, football is a million dollars industry. It is indeed a big business, and money is also part of the game. But it is surely nice to see some big names playing in your local league, isn't it?