FIFA issues guidance on COVID-19 football regulatory issues

For the purpose of addressing regulatory issues impacted by COVID-19, on June 11, 2020, the Bureau of the FIFA Council, the international governing body of football, approved new temporary regulatory amendments to the FIFA Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players (“RSTP”) and the Rules Governing the Procedures of the Players’ Status Committee and the Dispute Resolution Chamber (the “Amendments”).

The June 2020 Amendments have been released in conjunction with 13 workshops recently held by the FIFA administration with representatives from FIFA’s member associations (MAs), confederations, the World Leagues Forum (WLF) and the European Club Association (ECA). The outcome of the workshops has been summarized by FIFA in a 23-page document of frequently asked questions (FAQs) addressing various regulatory and legal issues.

Moreover, the recent Amendments follow FIFA’s release, on April 7, 2020, of a set of recommendations and guidelines on practical issues arising from the disruption caused by the pandemic at all levels of football (the “COVID-19 Guidelines”).

In a nutshell, the June 2020 Amendments address the following topics:

1. Registration of players

“In order to avoid any concerns regarding unemployed players”, FIFA amended Article 5 paragraph 4 of the RSTP as to allow players, for the time being, to be registered with a maximum of three clubs and, during the same football season, play for three clubs. Traditionally, players have been able to register to no more than two clubs.

2. Transfer windows

Subject to certain conditions, the Amendments now permit MAs that follow a dual-year calendar to commence the “first registration period” for the 2020/2021 football season prior to the completion of the 2019/2020 season (see Article 6 paragraph 2 of the RSTP). This decision has been taken by FIFA for the purpose of allowing such clubs to complete the current (i.e. 2019/2020) football season with their original squad.

3. Disputes before FIFA

With reference to disputes before FIFA, the Amendments now provide that, in conjunction with claims filed between June 10, 2020 and December 31, 2020, the relevant parties will not be required to pay advance costs and procedural costs. Moreover, claims that have been filed before the date of June 10, 2020, but are yet to be adjudicated, shall be subject to procedural costs no higher than any advance of costs paid by the relevant parties.

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