Volume: 16 Issue: 5
FIFA announced amendments to its Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players (‘RSTP’) on 26 April 2018 in Circular 1625, which introduces an amendment to Article 14 to include a new paragraph concerning abusive situations where the stance of a party is intended to force the counterparty to terminate or change the terms of the contract; a new Article 14bis to address the circumstance of terminating a contract due to overdue salaries; a change to Article 17 regarding the calculation of compensation for breach of contract without just cause; and a new Article 24bis relating to the execution of monetary decisions, granting FIFA’s decision-making bodies the power to impose sanctions on players and clubs if a monetary decision is not complied with.
“The major regulatory change is Article 24bis because it introduces a new concept,” said Paolo Lombardi, Managing Director at Lombardi Associates. “Some of the other amendments seem at first sight very significant, although they actually enshrine principles that have been established through consistent jurisprudence of FIFA decision-making bodies. Having said that, the act of codifying principles arising from jurisprudence should not be underestimated.”
Under Article 24bis, when instructing a party (a club or a player) to pay another party (a club or a player) a sum of money, the Players’ Status Committee, the Dispute Resolution Chamber (‘DRC’), the Single Judge or the DRC judge will also decide on the consequences for failure to pay the relevant amounts in due time. The specific consequences for non-compliance with a monetary decision will be included in the findings of the decision and will be the following, when applicable to debtor clubs: a ban from registering any new players until due amounts are paid over a maximum of three consecutive registration periods; and when applied to debtor players: a restriction from playing in official matches until due amounts are paid over a maximum of six months.
“Article 24bis is clear in indicating that the relevant FIFA decision-making body ‘shall’ include with a monetary decision the specified sanction that will apply in the event of non-compliance with such decision,” adds Lombardi. “As it stands, if a monetary decision is not complied with following a final and binding decision, the creditor needs to request the FIFA Disciplinary Committee (‘FDC’) to open disciplinary proceedings and potentially impose sanctions in order to enforce payment. Instead, such sanctions will now be included in the monetary decision, which in principle means less delays for creditors, and less cases for the FDC to deal with. Of course, parties can still lodge an appeal with CAS against the FIFA decision, and the challenge here will be for CAS to provide equally swift appeal proceedings so as not to counteract the positive impact of the new amendments.”
FIFA also issued Circular 1628 on 9 May 2018, announcing a new approach to debtors within the procedure of Article 64 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code. FIFA acknowledged the introduction of Article 24bis in this Circular but stated that due to the limited scope of the new Article and that it will only apply to claims lodged after 1 June 2018, the FDC will still have a “considerable” number of cases to deal with so the implementation of sanctions under a new procedure in the Disciplinary Code is also necessary. The new procedure will see point deductions and transfer bans automatically imposed on debtors by member associations from the expiry of the final deadline for payment.