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Ghost transfers and the Transfer Matching System.

(TMS) The Transfer Matching System.

Adam Brogden

In 2009 a new system was introduced by FIFA to regulate the migratory movements of footballers from one country to another or rather from one association to another. All associations have received training on this new system and have implemented it, over 5’000 clubs and 208 associations. It is mandatory to use this system in all international transfers.

The hope is that this new system will stop the illegal importation of minors in to European football as this market is the primary target for these “football traders” as well as Brazil, also FIFA hopes that this new system will inhibit or stop “Ghost transfers” which are responsible for money laundering in football by the means of transferring a fictitious player across borders to hide money transfers as well as fictitious agents fees. This new system will insure that any monies transferred are from club to club only and not influenced by third parties.

Information held on this system consists of the following;

Birth certificate (where a player is under 18 his parents birth certificates and right to work in the destination country unrelated to football), player passport, nationality passport, Permit to work in destination country, professional contract details consisting of agents name or responsible person’s name and their commission, all payment details including date of payments and bank account details of both clubs involved in the transfer, transfer contract and dates of any payments, the paying club must upload evidence of payments on dates required in the contract, member association details (countries involved in the transfer).

All this information has to be inputted by both clubs independently of one another and all details must correlate. Only then will an (ITC) International transfer certificate be issued.

Minors in football.

1. International transfers of players are only permitted if the player is over the age of 18.

2. The following three exceptions to this rule apply:

a) The player’s parent’s move to the country in which the new club is located for reasons not linked to football.

b) The transfer takes place within the territory of the European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA) and the player is aged between 16 and 18. In this case, the new club must fulfil the following minimum obligations: i. it shall provide the player with an adequate football education and/or training in line with the highest national standards.

ii. It shall guarantee the player an academic and/or school and/or vocational education and/or training, in addition to his football education and/or training, which will allow the player to pursue a career other than football should he cease playing professional football.

iii. It shall make all necessary arrangements to ensure that the player is looked after in the best possible way (optimum living standards with a host family or in club accommodation, appointment of a mentor at the club, etc.).

iv. It shall, on registration of such a player, provide the relevant association with proof that it is complying with the aforementioned obligations;

 

20 VI. INTERNATIONAL TRANSFERS INVOLVING MINORS

 

c) The player lives no further than 50km from a national border and the club with which the player wishes to be registered in the neighbouringassociation is also within 50km of that border. The maximum distance between the player’s domicile and the club’s headquarters shall be 100km.

In such cases, the player must continue to live at home and the two associations concerned must give their explicit consent.

3. The conditions of this article shall also apply to any player who has never previously been registered with a club and is not a national of the country in which he wishes to be registered for the first time.

4. Every international transfer according to paragraph 2 and every first registration according to paragraph 3 is subject to the approval of the subcommittee appointed by the Players’ Status Committee for that purpose. The application for approval shall be submitted by the association that wishes to register the player. The former association shall be given the opportunity to submit its position. The sub-committee’s approval shall be obtained prior to any request from an association for an International Transfer Certificate and/or a first registration. Any violations of this provision will be sanctioned by the Disciplinary Committee in accordance with the FIFA Disciplinary Code. In addition to the association that failed to apply to the sub-committee, sanctions may also be imposed on the former association for issuing an International Transfer Certificate without the approval of the sub-committee, as well as on the clubs that reached an agreement for the transfer of a minor.

(The above is taken from FIFAs status and transfer of players regulations)

Ghost transfers;

Before TMS was implemented complicit parties could transfer a fictitious player across international borders by means of obtaining an international transfer certificate (ITC) from a national association, with the implementation of TMS this has become harder for the corrupt or misled within national associations to be complicit in money laundering.

For FIFA to have acted and revamped its monitoring there must have been unproven or hushed issues within some national associations. National associations can no longer regulate themselves when it comes to international transfers they can oversee TMS within their area, the information held on this system makes it almost impossible to conjure up a person in the hope of initiating a “ghost transfer” where a player will be transferred to a club then released sometime after with the only purpose of the transfer being the movement of monies across international borders.

So I ask if there was never a problem of this nature why we now have a monitoring system to combat money laundering. It is through FIFAs implementation of this new monitoring system that we see indirect evidence of past problems.

It was FIFAs rules’ governing transfers that allowed this situation to evolve and it is acting 20 years too late. Together with national associations either being complicit or duped, encouraged this form of corruption. Slowly the door is being closed but not far enough as FIFA monitors TMS alone; it is not a system that is open for all to see. Granted a lot of the information it holds is governed by the data protection act of different countries. So again we find FIFA taking control of a market when itself has a history of leaving the door open to corruption whether intended or not. Also the final destination of transferred monies cannot be monitored once the transaction between clubs has been completed.

Is this FIFA doing as little as is needed?

For the first time since the end of the Amateur Cup we are seeing a separation of the professional game and the amateur game as only professional players need to be registered on this system. For the first time we can point to something FIFA has done that has not encompassed the whole of the footballing community.

FIFA has set a new precedent in separating the professional and amateur games so can we please have full technological monitoring in the professional game now, instant replays wouldn’t go amiss. We all know the money is available and the public interest in a fair and just sport is well known. However as I have already shown you it takes FIFA about 20 years to sort itself out. Or do as little as is required

Written by Adam Brogden.

The books…

The sites…

 

 

3 comments to Ghost transfers and the Transfer Matching System.

  • avatar Gerry Lennon

    Fascinating stuff. Two points:
    One, if the amateur game is left out of the system, what is to stop unregulated players turning professional after they move to an Amateur club, then signing for a club who pays un-regulated money for the play to move to the amateur club, and Fifa is none the wiser? Until this ‘amateur suddenly develops into a full international of course. By which time it is too late.
    Two, why don’t Fifa, or an independent body control the money transfers by opening a bank account where all monies are paid in and paid out? The buying club pays into this account while the checks are done. When the release certificate is processed, the bank pays the money to the selling club, and authorised agents?
    Simples … i think?

  • avatar Adam

    @Gerry, An amateur can retain his status until he turns pro then his details must be registered on TMS, A player has to be in a country for more than 5 years to sign his first contract without going through TMS. If a player gives up his pro status the pro club holds his registration for 30 months so if he signs another pro contract within that time the receiving club pay training compensation.
    FIFA already has a half way house for the transfer of monies on transactions yet to be completed.

    Gerry do you want me to put up links to the literature I have been reading?

  • avatar bjtgooner

    @Adam

    Thanks for this article & for illustrating FIFA’s reluctant and pedestrian progress. Players, especially the young vulnerable guys deserve much better.