Training compensation and solidarity payments - FIFA activates Article 13 to help clubs fast-track disputes

Published 30 August 2019 By: Toni Roca

Training Session

Recently FIFA, headed by its Chief Legal Officer, Emilio Garcia Silvero, has been doing a laudable job of updating all the regulations related to the football transfer system, a task that is included within the so-called FIFA 2.0 project1.

The main reforms package was approved2 by the FIFA Council on 26 October 2018 and includes measures such as:

  • the creation of a Clearing House to process all payments related to transfers (discussed earlier in this article3),

  • the introduction of an electronic transfer system at national level4,

  • the adoption of new rules regarding agents, and

  • the application of the solidarity contribution to domestic transfers with an "international component",

some of which are already being implemented. For more on the reforms, please see this article5.

On 21 August, as part of the reforms, FIFA published Circular no. 1689 relating to Article 13 of the Rules Governing the Procedures of the Players' Status Committee and the Dispute Resolution Chamber (the Rules).

Article 13 grants the Players’ Status Department (PSD) the ability to submit written proposals to parties involved training compensation and solidarity payments dispute relating to the calculation of the amounts owed and the payment terms. If, within 15 days of receipt of the proposal, the parties accept the proposal or fail to provide an answer, the proposal will become final and binding. If, on the other hand, a party requests a formal decision, the proceedings will be conducted according to the procedure laid down in the Rules.

Article 13 was included in the reformed Rules (which entered into force on 1 July 2008) with two objectives in mind:

  1. to speed up the decision-making process in disputes that don’t have complex factual or legal issues; and

  1. to ensure that FIFA's legal services are not clogged up by the hundreds of cases presented to them each year.

The curious thing is that the Circular states that,

"effectively immediately, the PSD will start applying Article 13 of the Procedural Rules".

This begs an obvious question: why has Article 13 not been applied for the last 11 years?

The author is not aware of whether other clubs and/or colleagues have ever received an Article 13 proposal from the PSD, but in all these years he has never received one, despite having expressly requested it in dozens of cases. And in the author’s view this has been a great shame, because its application could in theory have helped hundreds of training clubs to receive the amounts owed to them in just 15 days6, instead of being forced to follow an entire process before the Dispute Resolution Chamber (DRC) which, at best, takes six months.

This is another of the many examples of how, paradoxically, the system implemented by FIFA has encouraged debtor clubs not to pay systematically (as we have already denounced in this article7 on LawInSport) knowing that the regulations run in their favour and that non-compliance with their obligation to pay solidarity and/or training compensation has no significant, immediate economic or disciplinary consequences for them8.

Fortunately, FIFA is aware of this situation and is doing its best to address these systemic inadequacies. The figures to date indicate that approximately 80% of the money that should be distributed as rewards for training and education does not end up in the hands of its legitimate recipients, and so we can only applaud this new initiative, no matter how late it arrives.

To conclude, and as an affected party of the system, the author would like to humbly suggest the following three ways in which the system could be further improved:

  1. There are currently two other articles which in the author’s experience, like Article 13, are not being applied in practice. These are Article 7 Annex 4 and Article 2.4 Annex 5 of the Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players (RSTP).

Both articles state identically that "The FIFA Disciplinary Committee may impose disciplinary measures on clubs or players that do not observe the obligations set out in this annexe".

These two articles are, in the author’s view, probably the most important trump cards that FIFA has to compel clubs to comply with the RSTP.

In all cases in which a debtor club decides without just cause not to pay after having been formally requested to do so, and obliges the training club to file a claim before the DRC, FIFA should not only condemn the debtor club to the payment of the amounts due9, but the Disciplinary Committee should also open a disciplinary proceeding against the debtor club and impose the same disciplinary sanctions as those provided for in Article 12.bis.4 of the RSTP for non-payment of overdue payables, namely:

  • For a first-time offence - a warning.

  • For a second-time offence - a fine.

  • For third and subsequent offences - a fine and a ban on registering new players, both nationally and internationally, for one or two entire and consecutive registration periods.

If FIFA really wants to put an end to delinquent clubs, the simplest solution seems to be to apply their existing regulations. Activating Article 13 is undoubtedly a good step, but the definitive one would be the imposition of disciplinary sanctions10 on each and every club that does not comply with the payment obligations imposed by Annex 4 and 5 RSTP11.

  1. In cases where the debtor club does not accept the proposal of Article 13 without just cause, forcing the DRC to issue a final decision and thus deliberately delaying payment to the training club, the debtor club should be condemned to pay the costs, without the possibility of being exonerated from its payment if it does not request the grounds of the Decision12.

  1. It is not acceptable for clubs to be obliged to check the TMS every three days to see if they have received any claim or notice in an ongoing process.

In order to prevent clubs from having their rights of defence adversely affected by the procedural deadlines (which are usually short), it should be the TMS itself which shall send an alert via e-mail to the club concerned each time a claim is filed against it or a new document is uploaded in the system that requires a response (technology allows that and much more).

With the implementation of the Clearing House and the automation of all payments related to the solidarity contribution and training compensation, there are high hopes that many of the problems suffered over the years will be a thing of the past. But until that time comes, we have at least two more years ahead of us in which we will have to deal with the current system, and it is in FIFA's hands that it works once and for all quickly and efficiently.

And the solution unfailingly requires that FIFA (i) enforces its regulations once and for all; and (ii) begins to sanction in an exemplary manner all those clubs that systematically fail to comply with the RSTP, depriving the humblest clubs of economic resources fundamental to the development of the grassroots of football without which, let us remember, the show of the big clubs would not be possible.

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Author

Toni Roca

Toni Roca

Toni is a sports lawyer and partner at Corner Abogado, Palma de Mallorca (Spain).  He advises clubs, agents, sportsmen and federations on matters including transfer and contracting of players, dispute resolution before national and international bodies (FIFA, CAS); sponsorship and image rights and disciplinary proceedings.

 
He is also Chief Executive Officer at Football Transfer Watch, Palma de Mallorca (Spain), who specialise in efficient player transfer monitoring and end-to-end claim management solutions for football clubs around the world.
 
Academic Information 
- Degree in Law by the University of the Balearic Islands.
- Master in Sports Law. 
- Master in Tax Law. 
- Master in Labour Law. 
- Member of the Madrid Bar Association
- Member of the Spanish Sports Law Association.
- Member of the Esports Bar Association.
- Professor of the LLM Master in International Sports Law at ISDE.
- Professor of the Master in Sports Management  and Legal Skill with FC Barcelona. 
- Member of different Disciplinary Committees in Olympic Federations.
  
Languages: Spanish, Catalan, English and German.
 

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