Foreign Footballers in Ukraine and Russia’s clubs are free to join clubs outside the two countries as FIFA suspends their existing contracts

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Foreign Footballers signed to clubs in Ukraine and Russia can join clubs outside the two countries amid the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The world football governing body, FIFA made this possible after suspending all the existing contracts between the clubs and the foreign footballers in Ukraine for the rest of the 2021-2022 season.

This means that the foreign footballers in Ukraine can consider themselves “out of contract” for the rest of the season. But the foreign players in Russia would have to reach an agreement with their clubs before they can leave.

The foreign footballers in the two countries have until April 7, 2022, to register with another club outside Ukraine and Russia.

Recall that since February 24, 2022, Russia’s troops have been bombarding virtually every part of Ukraine, killing Ukrainians and destroying their properties.

Due to the invasion of Ukraine, FIFA had to sanction Russia by banning the country’s national teams and clubs pending when the war between the two countries ends. European football governing body, UEFA has also banned Russia.

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As for Ukraine, every social activity including football games and other sports activities has been put on hold due to the invasion.

Hence, footballers in the two countries have been left with no choice but to watch their colleagues in other countries play European club football via TV.

Most of the foreign players especially those playing in Ukraine have fled from the East European region and have not been able to play football since February.

To ensure that the career of the footballers tied to contracts in Ukrainian clubs is not put on hold for too long, FIFA had to suspend the players’ exiting contracts to give them the choice of joining another club for the rest of the season.

Also, Non-national footballers and coaches have the opportunity to seek new clubs for the remaining parts in the 2021-2022 season.

Even though the Russian Premier League has reportedly restarted after the winter break despite the ongoing invasion of Ukraine, the foreign players in the country have the choice of playing for clubs outside Russia until the end of the 2021-2022 season.

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Foreign Footballers in Ukraine and Russia's clubs are free to join clubs outside the two countries as FIFA suspends their existing contracts
Based on the new regulation, Nigerian winger Victor Moses who is contracted to Spartak Moscow has a choice of leaving the Russian club for the rest of the season.

A FIFA statement on its official website read: “Following the escalation of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has led to an ongoing and distressing humanitarian crisis, the Bureau of the FIFA Council has decided – in coordination with UEFA and after consultation with various stakeholders – to temporarily amend the Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players (RSTP) to provide legal certainty and clarity on several matters.

“Concerning the situation in Ukraine, to provide players and coaches with the opportunity to work and receive a salary, and to protect Ukrainian clubs, unless the parties to the relevant contract explicitly agree otherwise, all employment contracts of foreign players and coaches with clubs affiliated to the Ukrainian Association of Football (UAF) will be deemed automatically suspended until the end of the season in Ukraine (30 June 2022), without the need for any action from the parties to this effect.”

Foreign Footballers in Ukraine and Russia's clubs are free to join clubs outside the two countries as FIFA suspends their existing contracts
File photo Ukraine national team.

As for Russia, FIFA’s statement read: “To facilitate the departure of foreign players and coaches from Russia, if clubs affiliated to the Football Union of Russia (FUR) do not reach a mutual agreement with their respective foreign players and coaches before or on 10 March 2022 and unless otherwise agreed in writing, the foreign players and coaches will have the right to unilaterally suspend their employment contracts with the FUR-affiliated clubs in question until the end of the season in Russia (30 June 2022).

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“The suspension of a contract as per the paragraphs above will mean that players and coaches will be considered “out of contract” until 30 June 2022 and will therefore be at liberty to sign a contract with another club without facing consequences of any kind.”

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