FIFA to allow contract extensions and transfer window move
FIFA president Gianni Infantino: “Health comes first, well before football”
FIFA are to allow the summer transfer window to be moved and has recommended player contracts be extended until the season ends.
Tuesday’s announcement was made following consultation between FIFA’s Football Stakeholders Committee and representatives of clubs, players, leagues, national associations and confederations.
As well as extending existing contracts until such time as the current season ends, new contracts will not come into force until a new campaign begins.
FIFA has also encouraged clubs and players to find payment solutions while football is on hold, but has said it will arbitrate when a solution cannot be found.
When it comes to the transfer window, FIFA announced its intention to be flexible and allow the relevant windows to be moved so they fall between the end of the old season and the start of the new season.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has clearly changed all the factual circumstances around football for this season,” said FIFA president Gianni Infantino.
“So, FIFA, together with the stakeholders, has come up with some practical ideas and proposals to tackle these new circumstances.
“Whilst this will not solve each and every problem, it should serve to bring a measure of stability and clarity to football for the foreseeable future.
“One thing must be clear to everyone, especially now: health comes first, well before football.”
Since March 18, FIFA’s top officials have been attempting to bring a degree of clarity in an unclear world.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino has been leading discussions on what to do next, along with the six confederations in the global game, as part of the Bureau of the FIFA Council.
Their presence at the top table means all 211 member associations have been represented in these crucial talks.
This is simply the start and FIFA know these new guidelines will prompt further debate and discussion.
Flexibility is the key, hence their swift agreement in allowing changes to the dates of the summer transfer window.
But when will the game restart? Nobody can say until the coronavirus peaks.
It is now down to each association, including the Football Association and Scottish Football Association, to work out what dates will work best for their competitions.
The issue of player contracts is a much trickier issue to resolve. FIFA cannot enforce employment laws in different countries, so these must remain proposals.
There will be no shortage of legal experts pointing out that, in some instances, they raise more questions than answers.
How will they be enforced? How will out-of-contract players react? What if lawyers prevent extensions? How will it impact on the integrity of the game?
FIFA would rather not intervene on disputes, and administrators have pleaded for a ‘fair and balanced’ response from all parties.
But disputes seem inevitable, as there is no simple solution to a complicated issue. Again, it is for each association to establish their best next steps.
Infantino hopes these new guidelines, and recommendations, will bring some stability “for the foreseeable future”.
As he remarked last month: “This exceptional situation requires exceptional measures and decisions.”
But, as the death toll continues to rise around the world, Infantino has been keen to stress that, “Health comes first, well before football”.
FA chairman Greg Clarke says football players, club owners and fans must all share the financial pain of coronavirus and warns clubs and leagues could be lost.
Football’s enforced shutdown has left clubs throughout the football pyramid feeling the pinch. Premier League clubs Newcastle, Norwich, Bournemouth and Tottenham have placed staff on furlough, while Burnley warned they could lose as much as £50m if the season does not resume.