FIFA releases temporary rule that allows footballers to play for three clubs in a season

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The world football governing body, FIFA has given footballers the go-ahead to play for three instead of the usual two during the course of a season.

This is a temporary rule change meant to alleviate the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the sport. According to FIFA, the move was to avoid the effect of the coronavirus pandemic on unemployed players.

With the season extended due to over two months break due to the coronavirus hiatus, FIFA would allow national associations to open their transfer window for the 2020-21 season before the conclusion of the current campaign. According to the governing body, such change would help clubs complete the 2019-20 season with their original squad, even where the campaign had been extended from May into July, which affected a number of European countries.

How FIFA reached the decision

The decision was arrived at after the publication on 7 April of recommendations and guidelines to meant to address some of the key football regulatory issues arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.

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According to the body, it had conducted 13 different workshops with representatives from its member associations (MAs), confederations, the World Leagues Forum (WLF), and the European Club Association (ECA) that had over 350 participants before releasing the guideline.

As part of its financial relief to parties involved in disputes before FIFA, for any claim lodged between 10 June 2020 and 31 December 2020 (both inclusive), FIFA also said it would charge no costs for any claim lodged prior to 10 June 2020 which has yet to be decided, but the maximum amount of the procedural costs shall be equivalent to any advance of costs paid.

While noting that the guideline was developed based on the FAQ, the governing body said the FAQ document produced to alleviate the suffering of football clubs addresses several pertinent questions arising from the regulatory issues document published by FIFA on 7 April. It particularly relates to expiring employment contracts (agreements terminating at the end of the current season) and new contracts (those already signed and due to commence at the start of the next season); employment agreements that cannot be performed as the parties originally anticipated as a result of COVID-19; and transfer windows.

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