An update on legal aspects of FC Barcelona and the protection of minorsJohn Shea
In this blog John Shea provides an update on the one year transfer ban that has been imposed on FC Barcelona after the club was found to have breached FIFA regulations relating to the international transfer and first registration of players under the age of 18.
On 02 April 2014, FIFA’s Disciplinary Committee sanctioned FC Barcelona and the Spanish Football Association (“The RFEF”)1 for breaches of the regulations relating to the international transfer and first registration of minors. The investigations related to ten players who were registered by FC Barcelona and participated in competitions with the club between 2009 and 2013. FIFA’sDisciplinary Committeeimposed a transfer ban on FC Barcelona at both national and international level for two consecutive transfer windows2, together with a fine of 450,000 Swiss Francs.The effect of the transfer ban means that FC Barcelona are prevented from registering any new players until the 2015 summer transfer window, which includes players that the club has already agreed to sign.The RFEF also received a fine of 500,000 Swiss Francs and given one year to rectify their regulations concerning the international transfer of minors.In addition, FC Barcelona and the RFEF were issued with a reprimand. Please read my previous blog3 for more background to the case.
FC Barcelona have been found to have breached Article 19 of FIFA’s Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players4 (“RSTP”) which prohibits the international transfer and first registration of players under the age of 18. The rationale behind the rule is to protect the well being of young players and their overall development in terms of academic and football education. The rule is also designed to prevent forms of exploitation and child trafficking that can take place within football, which is obviously a real concern for FIFA.
There are, however, three exceptions to this rule under Article 19(2) of the RSTP. The first exception applies if the player's parent’s move to the country in which the new club is located for reasons not linked to football5. The second exception applies if the transfer takes place within the European Union and if the new club fulfils various obligations in terms of football education, academic education and accommodation/living standards6. This exception also applies if the transfer takes place outside the European Union but involves a European citizen (see TAS 2012/A/2862 FC Girondins De Bordeaux c. FIFA7). The final exception applies if both the player and the new club live within 50km of a neighbouring border.8
In order for the three written exceptions to apply, however, the transfer or first registration of a minor must first be approved by a sub-committee appointed by FIFA’s Players’ Status Committee in accordance with Article 19(4) of the RSTP. This requirement was introduced in October 20099. An application for approval must be submitted by the national association who wishes to register the player through FIFA’s Transfer Matching System (“TMS”) and any such application must include various documents in support. Sanctions will be imposed on national associations who fail to apply to the sub-committee for approval and on clubs who reach agreements for the transfer of minors without the sub-committee’s approval. Whilst we do not have specific details regarding the nature of the breaches in this case, it appears that FC Barcelona completed the transfer of the ten minor players and the RFEF proceeded to register them without obtaining proper approval from the sub-committee.
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- Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) | FIFA | FIFA Dispute Resolution Chamber | FIFA Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players | Football | Players Rights | Spain
- FC Barcelona and the protection of minors - Article 19 of FIFA Regs
- European football law recap: Vitesse & Chelsea links, Barce's transfer ban, Cardiff's rights to identity, and World Cup Stadia concerns
- The Spanish CNMC imposed fines on football clubs Barcelona, Real Madrid, Racing de Santander and Sevilla and TV broadcaster Mediapro
- Buy-Out & Release Clauses in football contracts: The basics
- FIFA rejects appeals of FC Barcelona and the Spanish FA in relation to transfers of minors
About the Author
John is a solicitor at Shoosmiths LLP specialising in commercial litigation and sport law with a particular focus on regulatory and contentious issues such as contractual disputes, disciplinary proceedings and the registration and transfer of players.