The transfer system is an intrinsic part of the sport of football. It enables players to move from club to club to improve the fortunes of the club acquiring their services but also in the case where a transfer fee is paid can improve the fortunes of the selling club by providing them with much needed finance.
The movement of football players is also an intrinsic part of the sport of football following certain legal decisions, most notably in the Bosman case and in the Webber case involving Article 17 of the FIFA Transfer Regulations.
As a consequence of these decisions the importance of footballers not being legally restrained from moving from club to club can be seen.
Currently under the FIFA Transfer Regulations a football player is unable to play for more than three teams in one season. This applies whether the player has been transferred or simply is on loan with that club.
This also applies regardless of what country that player has plied his trade in, whether that is in Europe, Africa or South America. As long as a player has represented a club in a league under the adjudication of a FIFA Member Association they will only be able to play for three different clubs.
However, this does mean that a football player is free to represent a total of three different clubs in any league in the world over the course of one season.
If we take the example of a football player moving between two clubs which ply their trade in the FA Premier League during the season we see the possibility of that player playing in the following domestic competitions:
If a player has already represented another team in a match in the FA Cup or the Football League Cup then they will not be able to represent their new club in that competition during the same season. This is a concept which is known as being Cup Tied.
However, this rule does not apply to the FA Premier League meaning that a player can play for more than one club in that competition in the same season.
As the cup competitions in England only contain a certain number of matches it is regarded as unfair if a team can purchase a player who has already played in the competition for another club to bolster their chances of winning the trophy.
Accordingly a player can only play for one club in either the FA Cup or the Football League Cup in a particular season.
It must be remembered that the imposition of two transfer windows throughout one season was only implemented by FIFA in 2003. Prior to this players could move between clubs at any stage during the season. This meant that a team could purchase a player just before the FA Cup final but they would not be able to use them if they had already played in the tournament.
However, in most seasons the FA Cup will start after the January transfer window meaning that players will not have played in the FA Cup yet that season if they move in January.
However, they will still have been able to play in the Football League Cup.
This concept of being cup tied applies to players moving between any levels in the English game. Lower league clubs will play the earlier rounds of the FA Cup prior to January so if a player moves in the window he may have already played in the FA Cup and will therefore not be able to play in the competition for his new club.
This concept also applies to European competitions as well as domestic competitions meaning that a player who has already played in the UEFA Champions League will not be able to play for another club in that competition during the same season following a transfer.
This same concept applies to the Europa League. However, a player can play for one club in the Champions League then represent another club in the Europa League following a transfer.
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