Gavin Dingley’s article on amendments to RSTP – part 1

15th October 2019

Amendments to the Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players by FIFA – Part I

By Gavin Dingley (FCIArb)

The Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players, otherwise known as ‘RSTP’, is undoubtedly one of the most important of FIFA’s many regulations. It ensures contractual stability in football and contractual cohesion amongst players, clubs and member associations. The RSTP is amended almost annually to ensure pace with developments from the previous year and published on FIFA’s website.

This year’s changes will be explored in three separate articles. These amendments to the existing regime were approved by the FIFA Council at its meetings in Miami, USA, on 15 March 2019 and in Paris, France, on 3 June 2019 but came into full force on 1st June 2019 and 1st October 2019 respectively.

The Changes

1.  Definition of ‘Third- Party’.

Under previous versions of the RSTP before 2019, ‘Third Party’ was defined by FIFA as:

“a party other than the two clubs transferring a player from one to the other, or any previous club, with which the player has been registered.”

The interpretation of this definition is such that only a buying club, a selling club, or any former club of a player were not considered as Third Parties under the regulations. This meant that any other person or organisation other than the aforementioned were considered Third Parties.

However, the amendment as ushered in by No.14 of the 2019 RSTP means that players are now included among those not considered as ‘Third Parties’. The amendment is now articulated as follows:

“a party other than the player being transferred, the two clubs transferring the player from one to the other, or any previous club, with which the player has been registered.”

What this amendment now facilitates is that the only persons who are not Third Parties are:

i)   A player being transferred
ii)  The selling club
iii) The buying club
iv)  Any former club of the player being transferred

The Loophole

Under the changes outlined above, a player can now benefit from his or her transfer fee. Article 18ter of the RSTP provides:

“No club or player shall enter into an agreement with a third-party whereby a third-party is being entitled to participate, either in full or in part, in compensation payable in relation to the future transfer of a player from one club to another, or is being assigned any rights in relation to a future transfer or transfer compensation.”

Consequently, under Article 18ter of the RSTP, a Third Party is not entitled to benefit from transfer compensation. However, since the definition of a Third Party now excludes a player being transferred, it means that a player could now be entitled to a part, or the whole, of his or her future transfer fee without violating Article 18ter of the RSTP.

FIFA has commented in its circular template on 1st July 2019 that:

“…such amounts promised to the players should be seen as part of the remuneration due to the players under their employment relationships with their clubs and such agreements should not be considered a violation of FIFA’s rules on third-party ownership of players’ economic rights.”

This amendment is also in line with the jurisprudence of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee in June 2018 decisions involving SV Werder Bremen (Germany), Panathinaikos FC (Greece), CSD Colo-Colo (Chile) and Club Universitario de Deportes (Peru).

Therefore, players and their representatives can now take advantage of the change in regulations and leverage, by requesting a percentage of a future transfer fee, especially where the buying club is unable to afford decent wages, sign-on fees, performance related-bonuses, etc.

To be continued… (End of Part 1)