Effects of the War in Ukraine on Football: New Temporary FIFA Rules on Employment and Registration
On 7 March 2022, a press release was published on the official website of the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) regarding the amendments made to the Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players (RSTP) due to the extraordinary conditions associated with the war in Ukraine.
The press release notes that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has led to an ongoing and distressing humanitarian crisis. Therefore, the Bureau of the FIFA Council has decided to amend the RSTP on a temporary basis in order to provide legal certainty and clarity on a number of matters, particularly employment and registration. It also emphasized that this decision of the FIFA Council has been taken in coordination with UEFA and in the light of consultation with the stakeholders of the football community.
The amendments are to Annexe 7 of the RSTP and are entitled “Temporary rules addressing the exceptional situation deriving from the war in Ukraine.” These temporary rules apply to all employment contracts with an international dimension concluded between players or coaches and clubs affiliated with the Ukrainian Association of Football (“UAF”) or the Football Union of Russia (“FUR”), as well as to the registration of all players – regardless of their nationality – previously registered with the UAF.
Suspension of Employment Contracts
Articles 2, 3 and 4 of the Annexe 7 covers the rules regarding the suspension of employment contracts of an international dimension which are signed with the clubs affiliated to UAF and FUR.
Notwithstanding the provisions of the RSTP and unless otherwise agreed between the parties explicitly, a contract with an international dimension between a UAF-affiliated club and a foreign player or a coach is considered suspended automatically until the end of the season in Ukraine (30 June 2022), without any need for action from the parties to this effect. The press release states that this rule of suspension aims to provide foreign players and coaches with the opportunity to work and receive a salary, and to protect Ukrainian clubs.
A similar protection is introduced also for the foreign players and coaches registered with the FUR. An employment contract with an international dimension between a foreign player or a coach and a club affiliated to the FUR can be unilaterally suspended until 30 June 2022 by the player or the coach, in case a mutual agreement with the club could not be reached by 10 March 2022, notwithstanding the provisions of the RSTP and unless otherwise agreed between the parties explicitly.
The press release also emphasizes that the minimum length of a contract (which is from its effective date until the end of the season) does not apply to any new contract concluded by a professional whose contract has been suspended in accordance with the provisions mentioned above.
The suspension of a contract, as explained in detail above, shall mean that the foreign players and coaches will be considered “out of contract” until 30 June 2022 and, therefore, will be free to enter a new employment contract with another club without facing any disciplinary, monetary, or other kind of consequences.
Flexibility in Registration
According to article 6 of Annexe 7 of the RSTP, a player whose previous registration was in the UAF or in the FUR, has the right to be registered by an association outside a registration period. This provision aims to provide flexibility to players who are, or used to be registered with the UAF or the FUR and have left or intending to leave the territory of Ukraine or Russia due to the war in Ukraine.
This exceptional rule only applies if the player signs his new contract on or before 7 April 2022 for the protection of the competitions’ integrity. If a professional signs a new contract after the registration period of the relevant association is closed and the UAF or FUR reject an International Transfer Certificate (“ITC”) request for the professional, FIFA is competent to immediately authorize the provisional registration of the player at the new association for his new club.
Furthermore, another exception is that clubs are entitled to register a maximum of two players who have benefited from the above-mentioned rule.
Protection of Minors and Training Compensation
Regarding the protection of minors, any minors residing in the territory of Ukraine who wishes to be registered with a new club shall be automatically deemed to fulfill the requirements of the exception provided in article 19 paragraph 2 d) of the RSTP, which sets forth the exemption for refugee minors from the rule preventing the international transfer of under-aged players.
Moreover, no training compensation shall be due for any player who has previously registered within the UAF or FUR and whose contract has been suspended according to Annexe 7 of the RSTP.
And finally, following the suspension of the player’s contract according to Annexe 7 of the RSTP, no club shall be entitled to any training compensation.
The war in Ukraine has had effects on football – particularly on the employment and registration matters of the players and coaches. With the Temporary rules addressing the exceptional situation deriving from the war in Ukraine, FIFA aims to provide some clarity to the issues which may lead to legal problems in the near future.
- The official media release may be found here: https://www.fifa.com/about-fifa/organisation/fifa-council/media-releases/fifa-adopts-temporary-employment-and-registration-rules-to-address-several
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