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A review of the updates to FIFA’s Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players

Monday, 27 June 2016 By Andrew Smith

By a Circular dated 1 June 2016,1 FIFA published the latest amendments to Annexe 1 of the Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players (the “RSTP”). These amendments came into force on 1 June 2016 and relate to two principal issues:

  1. The release of players from clubs to national teams; and
  2. The protection of minors.


Amendments to Annexe 1 of the RSTP

Annexe 1 governs the obligations of clubs to release their registered players “to the representative teams of the country for which the player is eligible to play on the basis of his nationality if they are called up by the association concerned.” It is not permissible for a club to enter into an agreement with a player that is inconsistent with this obligation.

Pursuant to Article 1, paragraph 9 of Annexe 1, there are strict rules governing players’ returns to their clubs from international duty. In particular:

  1. Players are required to resume duty with their clubs no later than:
    1. 24 hours after the end of the period for which they had to be released; or
    2. 48 hours if the national team’s activities took place in a different confederation to the one in which the player’s club is registered;
  2. Clubs are entitled to be informed in writing of a player’s outbound and return schedule ten days before the start of the release period; and
  3. Associations are required to ensure that players are able to return to their clubs on time after the match.

There are, however, instances of players failing to return from international duty within the specified timeframe. This can cause significance disruption or inconvenience to clubs, in terms of their preparations for domestic competitions.2


Disciplinary measures

Who, then, can impose sanctions for a failure to comply with the provisions of Annexe 1 RSTP; and what are the permissible sanctions?

The 1 June 2016 amendments to Article 6 of Annexe 1 are set out below (additions are shown in red text, and deletions are in strike though):

6 Disciplinary measures


Violations of any of the provisions set forth in this annexe shall result in the imposition of disciplinary measures to be decided by the FIFA Disciplinary Committee based on the FIFA Disciplinary Code.


If a club refuses to release a player or neglects to do so despite the provisions of this annexe, the FIFA Players’ Status Committee shall furthermore request the association to which the club belongs to declare any match(es) in which the player took part to have been lost by the club concerned. Any points thus gained by the club in question shall be forfeited. Any match contested according to the cup system shall be regarded as having been won by the opposing team, irrespective of the score.


If a player reports late for duty with his club more than once after being called up by an association, the FIFA Players’ Status Committee may, at the request of the player’s club, impose additional sanctions on the player and/or his association.

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About the Author

Andrew Smith

Andrew Smith

Andrew is a barrister practising from Matrix Chambers in London. He is an employment law specialist, and has a keen interest in sports law and sport generally. His Matrix profile (including Directory recommendations) may be viewed here.

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