COVID – 19: Football Regulatory Issues

Updated: Dec 18, 2020

There is no doubt that, the nowadays talk all over the scientific and practical sides is the Covid-19 event that is known as the New Coronavirus, in which has been recently announced officially by the WHO as a pandemic. On basis of the fact that such an event has affected forcefully in the whole life including the football game throughout its organizing and competitions as well as the parties’ obligations therefore, in which has become a force majeure event to stop the football activities all over the world, and accordingly any party shall be discharged from their obligations and therefore the law provisions shall be amended temporarily. In pursuant to the above, the international entity governing the game (the FIFA) is to answer the inquiries of the associations, members and the other respective persons in addition to providing the appropriate instructions in order to ease the unfavorable consequences of such an event on the game organizing, laws and players’, coaches’ and clubs’ agreements with each other.

Whereas in order to determine whether such an event considered as force majeure or not, the FIFA shall pass a decision officially determining that in accordance with article. 27 of the valid Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players (RSTP) that has been passed in March 2020, in which providing that the FIFA shall have the right to decide whether any event considered as force majeure or not and the aforesaid decision shall be final and binding.

Accordingly, the FIFA - through a committee has been formed for that purpose - has decided that the current situation is force majeure, and the said committee has discussed many issues answering the inquiries of the FIFA associations, members and clubs, such answering considered as non-binding guidelines for the associations in addition to some binding amendments in some provisions between the parties, such issue have been summarized in the following:


  • Expiring agreements (i.e. agreements terminating at the end of the current season) and new agreements (i.e. those already signed and due to commence at the start of the next season);

  • Agreements that cannot be performed as the parties originally anticipated as a result of COVID-19; and

  • The appropriate timing for registration periods (“transfer windows”); and

  • Release of players to association teams; and

  • Loans; and

  • Enforcement of decisions rendered by the DRC, the PSC or the Disciplinary Committee in the context of RSTP matters; and

  • Requests to FIFA, the DRC and the PSC for extensions of deadlines; and

  • Contract offer via registered post; and

  • Regulatory deadline to publish annual intermediary data; and

  • Point of contact; and


The FIFA is not in a position to instruct the Member Associations to decide whether to continue regulating the competitions or not during the current condition. However, the football activities have been stopped almost all over the world, each MA has the right to decide how dangerous the current situation is, during the Covid-19 event on the advice of its relevant national public health authorities, which gives flexibility for the MA to make their own choice, notwithstanding the ruling role of the FIFA.

First: Expiring agreements (i.e. agreements terminating at the end of the current season) and new agreements (i.e. those already signed and due to commence at the start of the next season);

Due to the nature of the game, the agreements in football are generally tied to the registration periods, to be determined by the relevant association independently in accordance with article 6 of the RSTP, in which are timely related to the first and the last match in the sport season. Owing to the temporary stoppage of the activity in many countries, it is expected to be resumed, affecting the start of the new season. Hence; the FIFA has decided as follows:


  1. Where an agreement is due to expire at the original end date of a season, such expiry be extended until the new end date of the season.

  2. Where an agreement is due to commence at the original start date of a new season, such commencement be delayed until the new start date of a new season.

  3. In the event of overlapping seasons and/or registration periods, and unless all parties agree otherwise, priority be given to the former club to complete their season with their original squad, in order to safeguard the integrity of a domestic league, MA competition and continental competition.

  4. Notwithstanding the afore-mentioned provisions, any payment is due prior to the new commencing date of the agreements shall be delayed to the new date or the first registration period.


Second: Agreements that cannot be performed as the parties originally anticipated as a result of COVID-19: -

Due to the nature of the current situation as force majeure affecting on the ability of the parties to execute their obligations, the parties shall reach to an amicable settlement, in lack of such settlement the relevant association shall amend their regulations complying with the current situation, in event of non-settlement or non-regulation amending, the FIFA has decided as follows:-

  1. Unilateral decisions to vary agreements will only be recognized where they are made in accordance with national law or are permissible within CBA structures or another collective agreement mechanism.

  2. Unilateral decisions to vary terms and conditions of contracts will only be recognized by FIFA’s Dispute Resolution Chamber (DRC) or Players’ Status Committee (PSC) where they were made in good faith, are reasonable and proportionate. When assessing whether a decision is reasonable, the DRC or the PSC may consider, without limitation;


  • The economic situation of the club,

  • The proportionality of any contract amendment

  • The net income of the employee after contract amendment

  • Whether the decision applied to the entire squad or only specific employees.

  • Whether the club had attempted to reach a mutual agreement with its employee.



Third: The appropriate timing for registration periods (“transfer windows”);

Notwithstanding the provision of article. 6 of the RSTP that the requests for registering the players shall be only within the registration periods, that the first registration period starts and ends within the period between the end of the season and the beginning of the subsequent season, in which shall not exceed 12 weeks, since the second registration period starts and ends during the middle of the season, in which shall not exceed the period of 4 weeks, however, it is expected from many associations to be affected by the current situation to not be complying with the registration periods, the FIFA accordingly has decided the following:


  • All requests for an extension of the current season finishing date be approved; and

  • All requests to extend or amend registration periods that have already commenced be approved, provided that their duration complies with the maximum limit (i.e. 16 weeks) established in the RSTP; and

  • All requests to amend or postpone registration periods that have not commenced be approved, provided that their duration complies with the maximum limit (i.e. 16 weeks) established in the RSTP; and

  • MAs be permitted to amend season dates and/or registration periods, either within TMS or by otherwise notifying FIFA; and

  • As an exception to article 6 paragraph 1 of the RSTP, a professional whose contract has expired or been terminated as a result of COVID-19 has the right to be registered by an association outside a registration period, regardless of the date of expiry or termination.



Fourth: Release of players to association teams: -

Despite the provision that the players are obliged to participate within their national teams and the clubs shall release their players to do so, such obligation is no more applicable temporarily, since the FIFA has decided as follows:


  • Clubs are not obliged to release their registered players to association teams.

  • If a club agrees to release a registered player to an association team, the player may decline the call-up.

  • Any such decisions shall not be subject to disciplinary measures.

  • If a player is unable to resume duty with their club by the relevant deadline due to COVID-19, the association and/or the player shall not be subject to any future restrictions or disciplinary measures.


  • The following international windows are subject to this decision:

  1. 23-31 March 2020 (men’s international match calendar),

  2. 6-15 April 2020 (women’s international match calendar)

  3. 6-15 April 2020 (futsal international match calendar).

  • Furthermore, It’s expected that these provisions might be amended later for June and July.


Fifth: Loans: In regard to the amendments on the RTSP issued in Sep, 2019 to be valid from July 1st 2020, the FIFA has decided to revoke such amendments.

Sixth: Enforcement of decisions rendered by the DRC, the PSC or the Disciplinary Committee in the context of RSTP matters; and In regard to respecting the FIFA decisions rendered by one of its judicial bodies, the FIFA has decided to mandate the parties to respect such decisions and the applicable disciplinary procedures shall apply, even though the clubs might be affected financially in their ability to fulfill their due debts.

Seventh: Requests to FIFA, the DRC and the PSC for extensions of deadlines; and It’s worth mentioning that, according to article 6 of the Rules Governing the Procedures of the PSC and the DRC, a party my request for extension of the time limit to be granted once for further ten days, the FIFA therefore has decided to amend such extension to be 15 days instead.

Eighth: Contract offer via registered post Whereas the principle provision according to article 6\3 of annex 4 to the RSTP states that, If the former club does not offer the player a contract, no training compensation is payable unless the former club can justify that it is entitled to such compensation, such offer shall be writing via registered post at least 60 days before the expiry of his current contract. The FIFA therefore has amended such provision and permit the club to send their offer via email, provided that, the former club obtains confirmation from the player - via any credible means - that he has received a copy of the offer.



Ninth: Regulatory deadline to publish annual intermediary data; and Whereas according to article, 6\3 of the FIFA Regulations on Working with Intermediaries provides that Associations shall make publicly available at the end of March of every calendar year, such time limit has been amended to be on 30th of June, 2020 instead.

Tenth:- Point of contact; and Since the current situation has led to man inquiries and issue, the FIFA has decided to open a direct line of contact for any questions or inquiries, the FIFA became willing to receive the inquiries through the email: legal@fifa.org, or the website, www.fifa.com/covid19

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