What Sanctions can be imposed on football clubs in relation to their dealings in the transfer market?

As there are no specific laws in relation to sport imposed by Government agencies it is often up to the governing body of that particular sport to judge on when a breach of their rules has occurred and accordingly what should be the appropriate punishment for the parties involved.

FIFA is the world governing body of regulation football and often has to provide rules and regulations which all football clubs which are governed by a Member Association of FIFA have to adhere to. For example the Football Association is a Member Association of FIFA so therefore the FA has to ensure that its clubs adhere to the specific rules laid down by FIFA.

Legal interference with the decisions of FIFA

In certain cases the rules and regulations stated by FIFA are held to be in contravention of legal rights of the individual football players. This has been particularly apparent when the European Union has felt that the transfer rules may infringe the rights guaranteed by European Union law of the individuals participating in the sport. The best example of this being the notorious Bosman case. In cases such as this they will step in and bring a case against the governing body of that particular sport.

In certain cases the decisions of FIFA will be open to challenge simply because those involved feel they are disproportionate to the offence committed.

Decisions of FIFA in relation to transfers

Following the decision of the European Union in the Bosman case there have been significant problems experienced by the smaller clubs in losing their players without receiving adequate compensation.

Therefore FIFA has been keen to provide these smaller clubs with more protection. These decisions are provided by the FIFA disciplinary committee are adjudicated upon when one club makes a complaint to FIFA regarding another club.

Recent ban on transfers

During the last year an English FA Premier League club was handed down a sanction by the FIFA disciplinary committee in relation to the signing of a 17 year-old player from a French club. The player was said to have breached his contract with his existing club and was induced to do so by his new club.

Difference between various European Countries

This was possible as clubs in England are able to sign players on a professional contract prior to their 18th birthday whereas clubs on the continent playing in such countries as France are unable to sign players on a professional contract until they turn 18. In practice this means that English clubs are able to sign players who have grown up at a foreign club before the foreign club can and in doing so exercising a tactic known as poaching.

If the player was not under a professional contract then how could it have been held that he breached his contract with the French club?

The player was under a youth training contract with his original club which is said to be the contract which he was to have broken and was induced into by the English club.

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For more information on:

  • What is meant by an inducement to breach a contract?
  • What sanctions were imposed by FIFA?
  • Is there a right to appeal these kinds of decisions?
  • What was the result of the appeal to the CAS?
  • Does this case set a precedent for club who behave in this manner?