Fifa brings in new rules for amateur footballers in bid to stop young players being trafficked

Amateur footballers making a move abroad for work or other reasons will now be required to register with Fifa if they wish to sign for another club as world football's governing body bids to clamp down on young players being trafficked.
Fifa is tightening up its rules for amateur players. Picture: Getty ImagesFifa is tightening up its rules for amateur players. Picture: Getty Images
Fifa is tightening up its rules for amateur players. Picture: Getty Images

This was among the revelations from Jacques Blondin, Fifa’s Head of TMS (Transfer Matching System), during a talk at the Edinburgh Sports Conference.

Blondin also revealed the total spend world-wide in the most recent transfer window was £4.7 billion (US $5.8 million). The figure relates only to international transfers, which for Fifa purposes includes those between Scotland and England.

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It means Ryan Kent’s £7m deadline day transfer from Liverpool to Rangers, confirmed close to midnight on Monday, makes up part of the figure. It was just one of 8,746 transfers completed around the world between 1 June and 2 September. Only 18.5 per cent involved fees and less than 40 per cent of these were above £1m. There were 377 transfers completed in the women’s game in the same period.

It is nearly ten years since an Indonesian who moved from a club in the Netherlands to Indonesia became the first player to be transferred electronically and Blondin stressed the capabilities of the newly improved system. The number of TMS users peaked at 250 in mid-afternoon on deadline day.

“From a technical point of view [TMS] can guarantee that 1000 users can access the platform at the same time,” Blondin confirmed. “The system is bullet-proof.”

As many as 184 Fifa member countries had a registration period open between 1 June to 2 September – there are still 60 currently open around the world. Amateurs will be required to register from 1 October if they are moving between clubs in different countries.

“The principle will be the same,” said Blondin. “We are aware of the fact a lot of clubs don’t currently have access to TMS, so associations can act on their behalf.”

One of the intentions is to cut down on the number of players being trafficked, from Africa to southern European countries for example.

“The goal is to increase transparency – it will involve a lot of extra work,” added Blondin. “It is opening Pandora’s Box, we do not know what we will see because no one has ever tried to track this before. I think, at least in Europe, we will see people moving between countries for professional reasons who will be changing teams – so that transfer will be reflected. But I predict also we will see a lot of refugees as well. The idea is to see what is going on.”

A Fifa ID number will be assigned to each amateur player, male or female, making a cross border move. “We are aware some clubs use amateur status to circumvent regulations,” Blondin said. “This will allow us to monitor that.”