Restriction on minors’movement first came into picture when a “Commission-condoned” FIFA transferrules incorporated Article 12 which specifically dealt with the protection ofminors’ i.
e. refusal of their transfer request from one club to another club ofdifferent country1.Theprovision intended to retaliate the detrimental repercussions of internationaltransfers of a minor, heralding a new era in the transfer policy acrossfootballing nations2.The prohibition was not absolute and carved out two exceptions; the”parents-rule” allowing minors to transfer internationally with their familyfollowing them, in which the new club is located, for “reasons not linked to football3”. Secondbeing, the “EU and EEA rule”, which allowed players’, younger than 18 but abovethe minimum working age, to transfer internationally, wherein the training clubswere held accountable for providing a systemic education and sufficientexposure for nurturing of talents4. However,these exceptions further led to intricacies which were dealt by FIFA’s PlayersStatus Committee (“PSC”, body adjudicating on matters related to the protectionof minors) adjudicating on issues raised by national associations5 andafter many deliberations added a third exception, known as the “50 + 50-rule”6 that specifically aimed at improving thesituation of players living close to national suffering by the problem that is cross-border traffic7.
This rule allows minors’to partake trials of a club of a neighboring association within 50 kilometersof the national border (minors’ native country) provided that the players don’tseek a permanent move to the neighboring state. This has given rise to seriousuncertainties with regard to prohibition on international transfer as the FIFAcircular seeks to vitiate the prohibition on one hand8 andsubsequently allow minors to “partake” in trials of clubs situated within 50kms of the national border9, onthe other. The new exception (Article 12(1) (c)) to the ban on internationaltransfers was amended and adopted by FIFA in July 2005 repealing Article 12 andinserting Article 19 as the basis for prohibition on international transfers10. Theamended article sought to modify the existing two exceptions and resolved theambiguity that lied in the erstwhile exception with respect to “family” andaltered the rule stating that “parents” and not family could move with theirchild to another state provided the move was triggered by “reasons not linkedto football”11. Further, it brought down the age of “workers” (TFEU) from 18 years to 16years (“EU-EEA rule”)12 and taskedclubs with the responsibility of providing minors with an adequate footballeducation and standardized training in line with other top European clubs”; “addingnecessary duties that being according players with a suitable vocationaleducation which would secure players’ careers if they fell out of theirfootballing careers, providing players with decent housing and securing a proofof the same with FIFA13.
FIFA has sufficiently cleared doubts over accountability and enforcement of itsrules through its body PSC which has legitimately adjudicated upon matters oftransfers of minors and also authorized national associations to hold clubsaccountable for non –compliance of necessary requirements laid down in Article19(2)(b)14Analyzingthe Impact of Article 19 on Developing StatesArticle 19 RSTP,although, true to its spirit and form has been frequently transgressed by theminors’ families by indulging in unfair and unlawful practices which beingfaking visas and passports to move to another State. “Circumvention of theprohibition has become a common parlance”15.There has been a myriad number of cases where minors’ families have moved toanother country for employment without any restriction on their movement asthey are able to obtain residence permits without any caveats from another state(where the minor moves to his club)16. Developed states oftenface the menace of training industry hoodlums who manipulate the minors into movingto their academies pressing for the FIFA training compensation which istriggered by the impetus of the families to move away from the horrific workingconditions in a developing state to a more developed socio economic structure17.
Thiswas seen in a case where a fisher was caught in Tenerife ( Spain) carrying someAfrican men of which 15 were going to bepart of trials at Real Madrid( one of the most popular European Clubs in theWorld)18. This is makes it all the more difficult for FIFA to curb these activities asthey lack systematic regulations structure to bind such training academies and they get a freehand in manipulating thefacile structure of FIFA Regulations.1 FIFA RSTP, Art. 12 (2001).2 FIFARSTP, Art.12(1) (2001).
3 FIFA RSTP, Art. 12(1)(a) (2001).4 FIFA RSTP, Art. 12(1)(b) (2001).5 FIFA Circular no.
801, 28 March 2002.6 F. de Weger, The Jurisprudence of the FIFA Dispute Resolution Chamber, Asser Press , p. 14 (2nd ed. 2016)7 Supra at 5.
8 FIFA RSTP, Art. 12(1)(c)(2001), FIFA Circular no. 801, 28 March 2002, “Amendments to the FIFARegulations for the Status and Transfer of Players”.
9 Supra 5.10 Supra 8.11 FIFARSTP, Art. 19(2)(a) (2005).12 FIFARSTP, Art. 19(2)(b) (2005).
13 Lembo, FIFA Transfer Regulations and UEFA Player Eligibility Rules: MajorChanges in European Football And The Negative Effect On Minors, Emory Int’l L. Rev, p. 557 (2005).14 FIFA RSTP,Article19(4), Article 19(5) (2005)15 J. Señík and T. Gábris, Minors in Sport.
Position Paper on Legal Aspects of Minors in Sports in the Slovak Republic, International SportsLaw Journal, p. 69 (2010).16S Van den Bogaert, Practical Regulation of the Mobilityof Sportsmen in the EU post Bosman, Kluwer, p. 240 (2005) ; Supra at 2, p.
16517 Schokkaert, Football clubs’recruitment strategies and international player migration: evidence fromSenegal and South Africa, 17 Soccer & Society, p. 121 (2016) ; The scandal of Africa’s trafficked players, The Guardian, 6 January 2008, Supra at 2, pp.117-129.18 The dark side of football transfers, The Telegraph, “, 31 December 2014 ; Supra at 2, p.132.