Things are going from bad to worse for FIFA. FIFPro, the union that represents footballers around the world, has begun a legal battle against FIFA against the current state of the transfer system. After long negotiations that went nowhere between FIFPro and FIFA (and UEFA as well), the world player’s union has launched a complaint to the European Commission in Brussels, Belgium.
This could shake up the way transfers are handled in the professional game as it could bring about the end of transfer fees and, in effect, could make it easier for players to move all meanwhile taking into consideration current contracts.
Along with the end of transfer fees, FIFPro wants the end of the loan system, squad size restrictions, and a cap on fees paid to agents.
Lawyers for FIFPro feel like the current system is anti-competitive because it puts an unreasonable amount of power on top-flight clubs (i.e. Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester United, etc.) who can afford to pay these huge transfer fees.
So far FIFPro have demanded the restructuring of key elements that deal with player’s rights when dealing with a transfer. There are four major requests that the union has put forth and they are the following:
1) Any player not paid by their club for more than 30 days can terminate their contract providing they have given the club at least 10 days’ written notice.
2) If a contract is terminated by the club without just cause or by the player for non-payment, the player should be compensated by having the contract paid out by the club
3) Any player without a contract after the process above should be able to find work immediately, without having to wait for a transfer window to open
4) These reforms should apply domestically and internationally.
FIFPro’s General Secretary, Theo van Seggelen said about the situation, “Whatever happens, it is a historical moment not only for FIFPro but for professional football. We were responsible for Bosman, we were responsible for the declaration of objectives in 2001. We thought we had a good position then but we were tackled from behind.”
The Bosman Ruling from 1995 was one of the major cases in Europe that defined the current system of transfers of players we have today, and many believe that this recent legal action by FIFPro can be as momentous as the Bosman case.
As for how soon this case can go to court it has yet to be seen, but the European Commission will have six to 12 months to make a decision. If the Commission does rule in favor of FIFPro then it is approximated that it will take a maximum of two years for any new rules to be drafted and to take effect.
General Secretary Van Seggelen said that the reasons behind FIFPro’s suit is to better the game, to make it more equal across all countries and more equal for everyone to enjoy from the fans to the players.
Van Seggelen said, “I speak with players from all over the world, from Japan to Bolivia. The only difference between players is that one has a second-hand bike and the other has a Ferrari. All the players have to sacrifice to become a professional player.”
“Our top players promote FIFPro, they are happy to be in our world XI, they are happy to be treated like everyone else…We represent 60,000 players and we are united.”