New FIFA Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players

By Frans De Weger, BMDW Advocaten, Haarlem, The Netherlands

A new edition of the FIFA Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players (RSTP) will enter into force on 1 June 2019.

The new edition provides for only one, but a very important amendment.

To secure the integrity of the sport, on the occasion of its meeting on 25 and 26 September 2014, the FIFA Executive Committee adopted a decision of general principle on the regulatory approach of a ban on third-party ownership of players’ economic rights (TPO). In the 2015 edition of the RSTP, Article 18ter was introduced and Article 18bis was slightly amended on the understanding that a definition of “third party” was also included in the RSTP. These changes came into force on 1 January 2015.

The former Article 18ter of the RSTP contained the interdiction for clubs and players to enter into agreements with third parties, in which the “third party” was entitled to participate in compensation payable in relation to the future transfer of a player, or was assigned any rights in relation to a future transfer or transfer compensation. Except for the clubs that were parties to a transfer agreement, as well as the player’s previous clubs, all other parties, amongst other ‘players’, were considered as “third party” as a consequence of which the clubs, that were parties to a transfer agreement, as well as the player’s previous clubs, were the only parties that could benefit from an assignment of such rights.

As from 1 June 2019, players will not be considered any longer as “third party” within the meaning of the definition 14 in combination with Article 18ter of the RSTP. The new definition of “third party” now reads as follows:

a party other than the player being transferred, the two clubs transferring the player from one to the other, or any previous club, with which the player has been registered”.

FIFA’s latest amendment in its Regulations now explicitly means that, as from 1 June 2019, a club shall also be entitled to enter into an agreement with a player whereby the latter is entitled to participate, either in full or in part, in compensation payable in relation to his future transfer from one club to another, or is being assigned any rights in relation to a future transfer or transfer compensation.

This new regulatory change can be seen as a codification of recent decisions of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee (FIFA DC) of 26 June 2018.

In these decisions, the FIFA DC decided, in four distinct cases, that the clubs SV Werder Bremen, Panathinaikos FC, CSD Colo-Colo and Club Universitario de Deportes had entered into agreements with some of their respective players that entitled these players to receive remuneration in the event of a future transfer to another club. The FIFA DC, however, found in these decisions that the respective players could not be considered as “third party”. These amounts were seen as part of the remuneration due to the players under and derived from their employment relationships with the club and, as such, no violation had taken place of the FIFA RSTP on TPO.

However, the FIFA DC decided, on 26 June 2018, that players were not to either be considered a “third party” in the sense of definition 14 and Article 18ter FIFA RSTP.

The new edition of the FIFA RSTP, therefore, reflects this change of approach. It will be valid as from 1 June 2019.

Definition 14 of the FIFA RSTP now reads:

“Third party: a party other than the player being transferred, the two clubs transferring the player from one to the other, or any previous club, with which the player has been registered.”

The previous definition reads:

“Third party: a party other than the two clubs transferring a player from one to the other, or any previous club, with which the player has been registered.”

While many have welcomed this increased flexibility, which should give players increased bargaining power in transfer negotiations, concerns have been voiced around players potentially privately assigning these rights to a third-party.

The provisions of Article 18ter FIFA RSTP remain unchanged:

18ter Third-party ownership of players’ economic rights

“1. No club or player shall enter into an agreement with a third party whereby a third party is being entitled to participate, either in full or in part, in compensation payable in relation to the future transfer of a player from one club to another, or is being assigned any rights in relation to a future transfer or transfer compensation.

  1. The interdiction as per paragraph 1 comes into force on 1 May 2015.
  2. Agreements covered by paragraph 1 which predate 1 May 2015 may continue to be in place until their contractual expiration. However, their duration may not be extended.
  3. The validity of any agreement covered by paragraph 1 signed between one January 2015 and 30 April 2015 may not have a contractual duration of more than one year beyond the effective date.
  4. By the end of April 2015, all existing agreements covered by paragraph 1 need to be recorded within the Transfer Matching System (TMS). All clubs that have signed such agreements are required to upload them in their entirety, including possible annexes or amendments, in TMS, specifying the details of 22 V. Third-party influence and ownership of players’ economic rights the third party concerned, the full name of the player as well as the duration of the agreement.
  5. The FIFA Disciplinary Committee may impose disciplinary measures on clubs or players that do not observe the obligations set out in this article.”

Frans de Weger may be contacted by e-mail at ‘fdw@bmdw.nl’