FIFA have released a new set of guidelines for leagues and clubs on regulations during the COVID-19 pandemic. The virus has brought about an unprecedented halt to the game in many countries, but with leagues starting to plan return to play protocols, FIFA is seeking to provide guidance on how to manage complex issues such as contracts and the cross-border transfer of players.
It has meant a relaxation of a number of regulations, and the latest of these is to allow players to feature for three clubs in a season, up from the previous number of two. This regulation was introduced to stop players ‘club hopping’, but given the economic impact of COVID-19, there may be many scenarios where clubs look to off-load players, or players themselves are released at a second club for the campaign, and are seeking employment at a third.
“In order to avoid any concerns regarding unemployed players, players are permitted to be registered with a maximum of three clubs and are eligible to play in official matches for three clubs during the same season,” FIFA said in a statement.
The governing body has also stated that leagues can open their transfer windows prior to the end of the current 2019-20 season, which will allow teams to offer players contract extensions for those whose contracts end on June 30, but the league will continue into July or August.
FIFA have also waived the usual fees that are applicable for disputes between now and the end of the year.
“In order to provide financial relief to parties involved in disputes before FIFA, for any claim lodged between 10 June 2020 and 31 December 2020 (both inclusive), there will be no requirement to pay an advance of costs and no procedural costs shall be ordered, and for any claim lodged prior to 10 June 2020 which has yet to be decided, the maximum amount of the procedural costs shall be equivalent to any advance of costs paid.”
The regulations have been put in place after extensive consultations with many stakeholders, according to FIFA.
“The FIFA administration has since conducted 13 different workshops with representatives from its member associations (MAs), confederations, the World Leagues Forum (WLF) and the European Club Association (ECA). More than 350 participants have attended these workshops.
“After further discussions within the working group examining football regulatory issues impacted by COVID-19, chaired by Vittorio Montagliani and composed of representatives from MAs, confederations, FIFPRO, the ECA and the WLF, the Bureau of the FIFA Council has approved further temporary amendments to the FIFA Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players and the Rules Governing the Procedures of the Players’ Status Committee and the Dispute Resolution Chamber.”
FIFA has also created a Frequently Asked Questions document that can be found here. FIFA has also made other temporary changes to their regulations, such as allowing five substitutes per game (up from three) to safeguard player health.