FIFA faces lawsuit in Zurich

Zurich, November 24

FIFA is facing a lawsuit in a Zurich court over regulations that ban transfer of players under the age of 18.

The case was been filed at the Zurich Commercial Court on Wednesday on behalf of a 17-year-old African player and his parents, who say that the rules make FIFA’s transfer regulations unlawful.

A spokesman for Zurich law firm Nater Dallafior Rechtsanwaelte, which has brought the case, said in a statement that the player, who had represented his country at youth level, was unable to move to a club in the European Union because of the rules.

“Thereby, he and his family miss the probably unique chance of a professional and social advancement,” said the statement issued today.

FIFA bans the international transfers of players under the age of 18 unless their parents have emigrated for reasons not connected to football or both the player and club are based within 50 kilometres of a national border.

The only other exception is for transfers within either the EU or European Economic Area (EEA), where the minimum age is 16.

In those cases, clubs must still ensure that the player continues his education and studies for an alternative career, as well as making sure he has a high living standard. “FIFA implemented these regulations on the pretext that young footballers such as the claimant must be protected,” said the statement.

“In reality, however, these regulations lead to a discrimination of players from third countries outside the European Union.” This, it said, made them unlawful.

The statement said the rules also infringed EU law, which allowed for unrestricted free movement of students and employees.

FIFA could not immediately be reached for comment but has argued that the rules go back to an agreement signed in 2001 between FIFA, UEFA and European Commission and these had been further developed over the years.