FIFA's rules are discriminatory, allege lawyers representing player
Claim filed Wednesday in a Swiss court
The player or his home country not named
A 17-year-old African footballer is taking FIFA to court, arguing football’s world governing body is denying him the chance to further his career.
The legal move comes a month after FIFA hit Spain’s football federation with a $216,000 fine for allowing two of its most famous clubs – Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid – to sign underage players.
FIFA’s laws regarding minors are intended to protect youngsters – it toughened up regulations last year for instance by changing the age required for an International Transfer Certificate from 12 to 10 – most of whom won’t ever play professionally due to the immense competition.
But “he and his family miss the probably unique chance of a professional and social advancement,” a press release from the Swiss-based lawyers representing the player and his parents stated.
When contacted by CNN, the firm representing the lawyers working with the parents and the 17-year-old, who has played for “the national youth football teams of his country on several occasions,” declined to name him, his nationality and if he was playing for a European club.
“FIFA implemented these regulations on the pretext that young football players such as the claimant must be protected,” added the statement. “In reality, however, these regulations lead to a discrimination of football players from third countries outside the European Union.”
The claim is “primarily based on Swiss cartel law and the competition law of the European union” and was filed Wednesday with a court in Zurich.
Jorg Denzler, a spokesperson for the law firm Nater Dallafior Rechtsanwälte AG, told CNN in a phone interview that it could take two years for the case to be resolved.
A FIFA spokesperson didn’t comment because “FIFA has not been officially notified about the claim” in question.
Under current FIFA regulations, transfers of players under 18 between countries aren’t allowed unless the player’s parents move to the country in which the club is situated for reasons “not linked to football,”; the transfer involves a 16- to 18-year-old within the European Union or European Economic Area, with four other obligations met; or the player lives 50 kilometers or less from a national border and the club in question lies 50 kilometers from that border.
Commenting on FIFA’s rules regarding minors, the press release adds: “The absurdity of the transfer restriction becomes obvious if we bear in mind that the French parents of a young football player who live in Cadiz are allowed to relocate to Barcelona, 1200 km away from Cadiz, in order to enable their child to join the football academy ‘La Masia,’ while French parents who live in Perpignan would be prohibited from doing so, although Perpignan is only 200 km away from Barcelona.”
Speaking of Barcelona, the famed Catalan club was in 2014 banned from buying players in two straight transfer windows for breaking rules in relation to signing players under 18. Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid were then given the same punishment for illegally signing underage players and lost their appeals to FIFA’s Appeals Committee in September.
The city rivals are both appealing to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.