Wednesday, 16th January 2008
After intensive lobbying by the Football Association of Ireland, soccer's world governing body, FIFA, has changed the rule in relation to players playing for three clubs in a 12 month period.
Last year the FAI brought to the attention of FIFA the anomaly within Article 5 of its rules relating to the registration of players. The FAI pointed out that the rule, which operated from July 1 to June 30, did not facilitate countries whose season was during the summer and, at the time, successfully obtained clearance to play for eight eircom League of Ireland players who had signed for new clubs at the beginning of the 2007 season.
An FAI delegation consisting of eircom League of Ireland Director Fran Gavin, Legal Advisor Sarah O'Shea and Football Support Services Manager Eoin Hand met with FIFA's Legal Department on March 21 in Zurich and the Association then submitted a detailed submission on May 2 in support of a rule change. FIFA have now taken on board the FAI's argument and Section Three of Article 5 has been amended to accommodate countries who play summer soccer. It now reads:
"Players may be registered with a maximum of three clubs during one season. During this period, the player is only eligible to play official matches for two clubs. As an exception to this rule, a player moving between two clubs belonging to associations with overlapping seasons ( i.e. start of the season in summer/autumn as opposed to winter/spring) may be eligible to play in official matches for a third club during the relevant season provided he has fully complied with his contractual obligations towards his previous clubs. Equally, the provisions relating to the registration periods (article 6) as well as to the minimum length of a contract (article 18 paragraph 2) must be respected."
Fran Gavin, Director of the eircom League of Ireland, welcomed the change: "While other countries turned a blind eye to this anomaly in the rules, we took the decision to point it out to FIFA because we were not prepared to run the risk of receiving sanctions for breaching it. The change will greatly benefit the eircom League of Ireland and the players in it and is another example of the advantages to be had from having the association directly involved in the running of the league."
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