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The international transfer of minors in football

In recent years it is not difficult to find in the media news about the signings of young promises that different teams make for their quarries. Also, we have seen news of how FIFA has sanctioned different big European clubs for not respecting the rules in relation to the transfers of minors.

Adrián Castro Gálvez

Date 08/07/2019

In recent years it is not difficult to find in the media news about the signings of young promises that different teams make for their quarries. Also, we have seen news of how FIFA has sanctioned different big European clubs for not respecting the rules in relation to the transfers of minors. Well, in this article we will try to clarify in a summarized and simple way the regulation that FIFA has on the international transfer of minors, and how this can affect any football club in the world, no matter how small.

With regard to the transfer of minors, the Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players of FIFA are applicable. It regulates the current regime of international transfer of minors and the first registration of foreign minors, in those countries where they are not nationals.

Article 19.1 of the FIFA RETJ establishes as a general rule that the international transfer of players can only take place when the player is at least 18 years old.

The second section of article 19 establishes the three exceptions by which, whenever their concurrence is proven, the international transfer of players under 18 is allowed. The three circumstances are the following:

a) If the player's parents change their address for reasons unrelated to football, the child may sign for any club in the country of the new address. 

According to the FIFA interpretation, for the application of this exception, it is not possible for the child to be living with a close family member, but it must be their parents who change their address. Requirements that greatly limit the development and possibility of promotion of minors, who may be in other States with their families, but nevertheless the possibility of playing football is limited.

Leaving aside a bit of the problem that can generate the wording of this rule, we must note that the idea underlying this exception is to preserve the stability of family, trying to avoid at all costs that parents are moving their children in different countries until they find a club that offers them a contract that everyone can live with.

b) That the transfer is made within the territory of the European Union or the European Economic Area, and that the player is at least 16 years old. With this exception there is room for one of the basic principles of the European Union, the free movement of workers. 

In addition, the new club is obliged to provide the child with adequate football training corresponding to the best standards in the country. We must not ignore the discriminatory nature of this exception for other minors of nationalities that are not found in the European Economic Area. We are facing an exception created by the institution that directs the world of football, which benefits a specific group of minors, pretending the rest.

c) The third exception is the closeness between countries, fully applicable in central Europe or parts of South America. It consists in that the family of the minor player resides less than 50 kilometers from the border with another State, and the club that files it is also less than that distance from the same border. 

To carry it out the player must continue living in his family home, and the two federations must give their consent. This exception is provided to facilitate the movement of players in nearby countries ensuring the comfort of the player, who will continue to live with their families in their home.

This is, in summary, the system of international transfers of minors between FIFA clubs, regulated in the aforementioned Regulation. In addition, there are other exceptions approved by FIFA in different Circulare, in which we will enter in subsequent articles. This system is adopted by all federations, and is fully applicable in Spain. Therefore, before enrolling a foreign child, it is necessary to analyze if their situation can be subsumed under any of the exceptions set forth. 

From Balms Abogados, we offer you an integral advice for the registration of foreign minor players in Spanish clubs.

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