The parents of a 17 year old African player sue Fifa over the transfer rules for minors

By Tony Attwood

An article on the Swiss news service 24 heures has raised issues which for the moment the media in the UK are ignoring.

The original article (in French of course) appears here.  My rough translation is beneath.

The Zurich-based firm Nater Dallafior Rechtsanwälte has filed a complaint with the Zurich Commercial Court on behalf of a 17-year-old African player and his parents who challenge the legality of the Fifa rules prohibiting the international transfer of minors. Neither the name nor the nationality of the young player were revealed.

As a result of these Fifa rules, this young player, who has been “repeatedly selected by his country’s national teams, has not been able to join a professional club of a member state of the European Union and has thus lost an opportunity, perhaps unique for him and his family, of professional and social progress,” argue the family’s lawyers.

Part of the problem is that different countries have different rules and regulations concerning what constitutes a child and what an adult.  In the UK the change between child and adult happens aged 16, in much of Europe it is 18.  In other parts of the world the age can be lower – hence the disputes.

It looks like there is a club that wants to test the rules, but whether it can get anywhere with the test case is hard to imagine.   Fifa operates across the world and sees itself as a supra national state above all the nation states that choose to ally themselves to the wretched organisation.

As such it sees itself as an organisation that can make its own rules – no taxes to be paid, its own car lanes… all that sort of thing.

What is interesting here is not just this challenge in court but the fact that the UK government has refused admission to a PSG player.  That is in effect a challenge to the whole Fifa concept; they may do nothing now but if a country within the UK ever tries to run a Fifa or Uefa event again, this issue is likely to come up.

So Fifa needs to protect its concept of being above nations and their petty rules.  Hence they will resist the case, and it will be up to the Swiss courts to decide if Fifa really does have the right to set rules that reverberate around the world, even if they contradict national rules.

If Fifa were to lose this would have an impact on organisations from the Olympics down and would in many ways change the entire nature of international sporting events, both those that are team based and those involving individuals.

But if Fifa wins, this is saying that they do have the right to be above national laws – and that would raise the question of how far can they go?

This is one of a series of court cases that Fifa and Uefa have started to face in the aftermath of the change in Swiss law which led to the arrest of numerous Fifa executives.  The battle is still being fought, and eventually we will find out who runs football.  Is it the governments of the participating countries, or the self-perpetuating elite of Fifa?

It could take a few years for this to shake out, but the result will be fascinating when it turns up.



20 Replies to “The parents of a 17 year old African player sue Fifa over the transfer rules for minors”

  1. What this un-named child & his parents and lawyers are suggesting is that any child anywhere in the world that has represented his country is automatically entitled to free movement anywhere to where a club would accept him.
    FIFA have got this one right and the boy should thank his lucky stars. He’ll probably be entitled to move freely next year anyway. There has to be an age limit, otherwise children who didn’t make the grade would be abandoned all over Europe. That’s the reason FIFA introduced this rule in the first place…to protect the young.
    It’s a none story really isn’t it, and I hope the bid fails.

  2. OT.
    I’ll come back to the article posting later. I’ve been watching Liverpool vs Sunderland live. Liverpool have the better of the chances to score in the 1st half. But the Black Cats have defended resolutely before the ref whistle sounded for the half-time. Will sunderland not tired in the 2nd half to concede to the Reds? If the Black Cats can sustain their resolute defending of the 1st half in the 2nd half, I think they’ll hold Liverpool and if they are lucky, a counter by them could see Liverpool suffered their 1st home PL lost this season.

    I watched Burnley vs Man City live. But an unecessary back pass by a Claret defender into his eighteen yard instead of to forward pass to a free Claret to his right in front of him had led to Aguero’s 2nd goal for City. A draw that would have suited us from the Arsenal perspective was on the cards in that match in the 2nd half. But that Claret back passing unecessarily led to the Clarets failing to get a point in the game.

  3. There has to be the limit in age set by Fifa to control the influx of football youth players fluxing into professional football clubs in the world and in particular in Europe. So as to restrict the element of child slavery in football clubs around the world who might be too in a hurry to recruit them for the exceptional talent they’ve shown while participating in Fifa’s age tournaments.

    At what age can a boy biologically impregnated a girl? At 17 or 18 years? I’ve forgotten which one out of 2 has been proclaimed by biological scientists as the age.

    In Nigeria, the attainment of 18 years is the constitutional declared maturity age for both boys and girls which enables them to vote in any of the state and national elections.

    I am sad as Liverpool have beaten the hard defending Sunderland team 2-0. With Man City winning and Chelsea vs Tottenham Hs result to come, Arsenal MUST win their own match against Bournemouth tomorrow to remain within touching distance amongst the table toppers.

  4. Law: Shaped by propriety, the determination of justice. Is it just that a child is prohibited from establishing his own circumstances where it may seem pertinent to do so? We could go into this in great depth, but I think it is needless to say that a child of whatever age being courted in terms of his footballing talents is something to be celebrated. I would assume that in this event the nature of the contact club is good and progressive, hence they wish to acquire his services early.

    Given that the young man is an representative of his country at international level should likely give wait to the credibility of the approach and it would seem amiss to disallow such an opportunity to the young man, it indeed would seem the most cruel of injustices.

    So I would summarily advise that it may be in the interest of both Fifa and the player, along witht he representative parties, that a proper consideration is given to the case and international guidelines are set in place to avoid such grievances in future. Perhaps a scholarship age and concurrent visa for boys above 15 who have represented their countries no less than Y times with X many months since the date of application at Z level may be signed to pre-cursor contracts that would expire at 18 and must be supplemented by a further agreement, which may be actioned by the the club holding Guardianship for the duration of tat period.

    FiFA not above the law, Judge makes no distinction, Kid gets a once in a lifetime opportunity, liability rests with club making contract. Easy like Sunday morning!

  5. watching the Che-Tot match. Totts all over Chels,however first Totts goal included an uncalled obstruction by Kane? on the Chel defender.

  6. Does the country of representation not have any bearing? If the country were a footballing minnow, the African equivalent of say Andorra, then representing g that country would not of itself make the p,Ayer terribly likely to succeed as a pro.
    This could simply be a case of Jesuitical lawyers trying it on.

  7. I agree that there are great jurisdictional issues at stake. There has to be a balance between allowing young people to make a living and protecting the same from predators who would take advantage of them all the while taking no responsibility for the all potential consequences both moral and ethical. FIFA might be bound by the Swiss magistrates because their headquarters are in Zurich – I doubt a sovereign nation would be.

  8. OT:

    “Invincible” Spuds have lost their fifth match this season. They have been already knocked out of two competitions. Pochettino for Arsenal!

  9. Tony,
    What happens if England wins the rights to host the World Cup, will the Home Office ban that Ivory Coast superstar player from playing for his national team in England?

    How will this affect the chances of England getting votes to host the World Cup in future?
    Will Ivory Coast and other countries who have players with a “criminal record” no matter how trivial vote for England to be the host country?

    What if another country says we will not allow entry to any players who have reputations of sleeping with grandmothers and prostitutes to play in their country, could this affect any English players?

    What if yet another country says it doesn’t want players to allow a visit by any players who cheat on their wife and s-h-@-g their team-mate’s wife.

    I think the UK may have started a bad precedent by banning the PSG player from entering the country to play against Arsenal.

    It is often easy and fashionable to knock FIFA but I sometimes think they are than the FA.

    The FA cannot even arrange to have a large enough pool of referees to cater for the Premiership games. And there’s the obvious bias and cheating in the administration of the game in the UK as detailed by Rafa Benitez’ statement of “FACTS” that the FA never disputed and never charged Rafa for bringing the game into disrepute if they thought he was wrong or mischievous.

  10. I hope Arsenal are looking for a Santi “clone” to start to replace Santi in 2-3 years, for without him, we are appearing very lost in midfield. I fear when Santi is injured or as the years are getting on.

    Anyway we have to win Sun that’s all i can say today, else we are slipping away from the pack.

  11. if this goes through much of barce et all punishment for alleged ‘child trafficking’ would seem uncalled for

  12. We signed Theo Walcott from Southampton as a 16 year-old. Is that child trafficking?
    I don’t think so.
    If Barca signs a 16 year-old from Paris, it is classified as child trafficking (despite the consent of the kid’s parents and the fact that the parents actually move to Barcelona with the kid. The kid lives with his parents and cook for him everyday).

    These so-called child trafficking laws in football are nonsense.

    If you say these kids are vulnerable then why allow Everton to field a team containing a 16-year-old Wayne Rooney? Is this not “child labour”?
    Shouldn’t the FA and FIFA ban child labour in the form of 15 or 16 year-olds being made to work for football clubs as First Team players?

  13. If you can block international footballers from getting visa’s then why can’t you stop the potential hoarding/trading of minors…

    Also why should sportsmen and women be different from the rest of the world when it comes to getting visa’s, or entering into foreign countries, perhaps it will help keep these prima do as on the tlstraight and narrow if they think their antics will prevent them from having/continuing their lavish lifestyle.

  14. @zurivi, but then said kid breaks his leg in his first training session, the club realise he is never going to play again, so ditch him.
    As he is no longer attached to the club he is kicked out of his home along with his parents, they have no house, no job, so can’t buy this lovely food for them to cook for their son (every day), they borrow money to get back home.
    Arriving back to their homwland they find the house they were renting before is no longer available so are put on a waiting list for a new home.
    His loving parents that had followed him abroad to feed him (every day) then try to enrole the son back into school for his last 2 years, but now with no fixed abode can’t find somewhere to continue his education…

    Bleak I know but there is a point hidden in there somewhere… (winking smiley face)

  15. @Zuruvi, sorry just realised had put zurivi not zuruvi, maybe a slight improvement on the autocorrected Zurich though…

  16. Zuruvi
    a child from Paris will supposedly have EU citizenship, in which case no rules will be broken

  17. Watching Chels v Totts was interesting. Totts came out flying but gradually Chels took over. My takeaway was a confirmation that the Totts are bunch of thugs. Wanyama, Vertonghen and Dembeli and Ali especially.

  18. @GoingGoingGunner, I watched the match live and I’ll not allow our rivalries against Spurs beclouded my objective football sense of judgement. More so since Spurs are not playing against Arsenal to kindle our rivalries against them.

    I think Spurs played very well initially in the 1st half of that game. But one momentary loss of marking or closing down by the Spurs’ defender that allowed Pedro to twist and turn in the Totts area to curl the ball to the top right of the far post got the back of the Totts’ net.

    In the 2nd half, the Totts dropped in their charging and in the momentum of the game which was high continuously, maybe due CL fatigue and Chelsea upped their charges in attack considerably in the game right from the onset of the 2nd half while the Totts reduced their game to defending against the rampaging Chelsea attacks. So it was not surprising to see Moses raced to a cut back ball in the Spurs’ box and rammed it past Hugo ILoris albeit helped further into the back of the net by a Spurs defender.

    I had wanted the game to end in a draw to leave Chelsea on 29 pts which will leave them a point ahead of us if we beat Bournemouth today and Spurs 3 pts further behind us. But I didn’t have it my way.

  19. People here are confusing cross border child trafficking with the legal free movement of EU citizens of all ages.
    If it’s possible to make a judgement in favour of this child which does not create a legal precedent then I think it should be heard on merit, otherwise throw it out.
    As I said earlier, he’ll be old enough soon enough anyway.

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