Transfer market rules in the spotlight: Loans, Brahim, Arsenal

The World football summit, running all this week in an online version due to the coronavirus pandemic, held a workshop to explain some of the new rules introduced by FIFA and how these affect both players and clubs.

Entitled “How has the modernization of FIFA regulations changed its case law?” », The workshop was led by James Kitching, FIFA Director of Football Regulation, who is responsible for drafting regulations and their implementation, as well as Enric Ripoll, senior lawyer at the sports law firm Ruiz-Huerta & Crespo.

FIFA Update Regulations

Kitching explained that FIFA is currently involved in an ongoing process to update and bring the player transfer system into the 21st century, saying the governing body has been discussing making changes for the past two decades. , but is now committed to introducing these rules to make the system fairer and more transparent.

An example is the concept of ‘bridge transfers’ where a player is sold by club A to club B and then, in a very short period of time, sold again to club C. specific regulations governing them, which means that the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) was not likely to rule against them, unless they are clearly abusive.

FIFA has now introduced a new rule (Article 5a) which specifically prohibits them, and means that any sale of a player within 16 weeks of the initial transfer win principle be considered as a relay transfer, an investigation being opened and it was up to the club to prove that there were good reasons for the second transfer to take place.

All clubs involved in a bridge transfer will be subject to sanctions.

Third party influence on clubs

The rule on “the influence of third parties on clubs” is particularly interesting at this time. which was cited recently in two high-profile cases.

These cases involve the situation where a club enters into a contract which allows the other club with which it is contracting, or vice versa, to have the capacity to influence in matters of employment or transfer. the independence of that other club, its policy or its sporting performance (including team selection, for example).

Arsenal case

Examples given included Arsenal, who received a fine of CHF 40,000 and a warning due to a contract affecting selling costs for players.

Arsenal have sold Chuba Akpom to PAOK Thessaloniki and Joel Campbell to Frosinone Calcio. Either way, Arsenal would receive a salute% resale fee if the player has been resold to a UK club rather than to a club anywhere else in the worldd (40 to 30% in the case of Akpom and 30 to 25% in the case of Campbell).

The FIFA Disciplinary Committee considered that these clauses had the ability to unduly influence buying clubs in the future, as they would be less likely to sell to UK clubs. Arsenal can still appeal the decision.

Real Madrid Brahim Clause

FIFA reached a similar conclusion in the case of Acquisition of Brahim by Real Madrid from Manchester City. Here, the sales charge has been set at 15%, but would be 40% if it was another Manchester club (clearly intended for Manchester United).

This would clearly influence Real Madrid’s decision going forward as to where the player will be transferred to.

FIFA first hit Real Madrid with a fine of CHF 20,000, which was reduced to CHF 10,000 on appeal, along with a warning. Real Madrid can still appeal. Manchester City were also fined CHF 30,000.

Undue influence on loan agreements

Ripoll admitted he was nervous about how the rules would affect loan deals, when a young player is on loan, with a clause stating that the player must play a certain number of games or, say, a fee will be. engaged. In his opinion, this could lead the clubs to decide to have this player play even where it was not the best sporting decision, in order to reduce the amount they might have to pay, which could be seen as an influence. undue and expose clubs to sanctions. This in turn could prevent players from going out on loan.

Kitching agreed that this was a difficult question, but noted the importance for FIFA that clubs are not influenced by anything other than sporting criteria when selecting teams.

They noted the case of Courtois on loan to Atlético Madrid by Chelsea who were unable to play against their parent club in the Champions League due to the “fear clause”. FIFA wants to get rid of this kind of situation.

Kitching noted that although the rule has been in effect for a decade, FIFA has only recently started enforcing it properly, which has led some clubs to break the rules. He explained that in September FIFA will publish an analysis of all recent cases to help clubs understand the situation.

Player protection

The workshop also focused on the new rules which are primarily aimed at protecting players, in two specific circumstances.

First, to allow a player to terminate a contract “with just cause” when the club has engaged in abusive behavior. According to Ripoll the most common types of abusive conduct include demoting the player to the second team, or require them to train on their own, and can also include things such as removing their club car.

Players will also be allowed to terminate contracts for unpaid wages with the option to claim those wages. While the rule previously existed, there was confusion over how long the player should wait for their money. The new regulations make it clear that if a club does not pay two monthly salaries when due, the player will have a valid reason to terminate his contract, provided he writes to the club and gives them 15 days to pay.

The new rules also provide for clear compensation when a party has terminated the contract for just cause.

Effect of Covid-19

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic has seen ‘gangs of players’ suffer wage cuts in football as clubs struggle to adjust to lack of income. This in turn has led to a number of cases of disputes between clubs and players.

Kitching said there are now enough cases that on July 20 the FIFA District Resolution Chamber will hold a meeting to exclusively consider cases caused by the Covid-19 crisis, with 20 cases already awaiting hearing.


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