A significant achievement for young football players all around the world. FIFA – after a strong recommendation from FIFPro - is to adjust its regulations in order to strengthen the protection of minor players.
As from March 1st 2015, all international transfers of minor players older than 10 years will require an International Transfer Certificate (ITC). Currently the age limit is set at 12 years.
Furthermore, FIFA pointed out that if a national football association (FA) wants to register a player under the age of 10, despite the fact that no ITC and no application to FIFA will be required, it is all the more the responsibility of this FA to verify and ensure that the requirements for the protection of minors established in art. 19 par. 2 of the Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players (FIFA RSTP) are met.
All national football associations are obliged to submit applications for approval of any international transfer of a minor player or first registration through FIFA’s Transfer Matching System (TMS), which only allows international transfers when a player is 18 years or older. There are exceptions to this rule which have been defined in art. 19 par. 2 of the FIFA RSTP. To obtain an ITC for the minor player, the football association in question must submit documents to prove that an exception can be made for the minor player. Without an ITC, a player cannot play.
In 2013, FIFPro urged FIFA to lower the current age limit, due to an increased number of international transfers of players younger than 12 years. FIFPro noticed the rapid growth after the introduction of the ITC for minor players (aged 12 to 18) in late 2009, and demanded more effective regulations to protect minors from any form of abuse or exploitation.
“To FIFPro it was clear that the increase in the number of under-12 transfers was caused by the establishment of the age-limit in 2009”, explains FIFPro Secretary General Theo van Seggelen.
“To us, a reduction of the age-limit was inevitable to prevent these boys being targeted by people who have nothing else in mind but making a profit”.
“Therefore we welcome both the 10-year age limit and the increased responsibility for the national FAs. We expect all FAs to accept their responsibility”.
Notwithstanding the improvement of the regulations, FIFPro still has some concerns regarding the protection of minors:
- Many agents manage to transfer minor players regardless of the RSTP and TMS, apparently due to loopholes in the RSTP and/or TMS. FIFPro expects FIFA to address these loopholes in order to guarantee that transfers of minor players can only take place in exceptional circumstances;
- There are many examples of agents becoming legal guardians of the players. Some agents are guardians of various players. FIFPro considers this a clear invasion of human rights and children’s rights.
Van Seggelen: “People must realise that we are talking about kids playing football. We are not talking about business or professional football. This is about boys, who in our opinion should grow up in their own familiar environment. Clubs, agents and parents too must be aware that there is more to life than football, that a child’s life and happiness is worth more than a handful of money…”