On 23rd May 2018, procedural changes will be made to the application of Article 64 of the FIFA disciplinary code (“the code”) in all disciplinary cases.
One of the core tasks of the FIFA disciplinary committee (“the committee”) is to ensure that decisions which are passed are respected and the decision is complied with. Article 64 was implemented in order to achieve this objective and sets out the sanctions available should any player, coach or club fail to follow a decision passed by a body, committee or an instance of FIFA, or by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
In circular 1628, the committee, has decided to vary the procedure to attempt to ensure that any decisions are respected as soon as they are issued, without the requirement of intervention of the committee.
Within the current procedure, more reliance was placed upon the committee to enforce financial decisions against a debtor club. Within the decision, the debtor was granted a final period of grace in which to settle the financial penalty and inter alia informed that, should the financial penalty not be settled by a stipulated deadline, a point deduction would be imposed upon the creditor’s request.
If the club failed to settle the financial penalty by the deadline imposed, upon the request of the creditor, the secretariat to the committee requested the debtor’s association, in writing, to implement the specified point deduction. Should that penalty fail to be settled, after the implementation of the points deduction; the matter was submitted again to the committee in order to possibly order the relegation of the debtor club’s first team to a lower division.
In summary, this is a staged process which requires heavy involvement from the committee to enforce decisions. This process allowed for delays in the enforcement of the decision, requiring the committee to be notified by the creditor that the debt had not been settled.
The committee has sought to address this situation, amending the procedure to ensure that any decision are respected as soon as they are issued and further sanctions imposed should the debtor not settle their debt within the stipulated deadline.
In the initial decision, the committee will pronounce a sanction against a debtor, by means of which it will be ordered to pay a financial penalty and granted a final deadline to settle its debt to a creditor. The committee will impose a point deduction and/or a transfer ban that will be effective, should the debtor fail to settle the outstanding payment.
If the relevant financial penalty is not settled by the debtor, the debtors association will be obliged to enforce the decision. The association will need to ascertain if the decision has been complied with by the deadline and will be automatically required to apply the point deduction and/or the ban from registered any new players, either nationally or internationally, for one or more entire and consecutive registration periods.
After all sporting sanctions have been served, if the financial payment has not been fully paid, the creditor may request in writing that the case be re-submitted to the committee in order to possibly impose additional sanctions. This could potentially include the relegation of the debtor’s first team to a lower division.
The key difference in the two procedures is the associations obligation to enforce the penalty in the first instance. The committee is now no longer to be involved and have to request that the association enforces this decision. The onus, is in effect, transferred to the association who must now adopt a procedure to monitor that the decisions are complied with by debtor clubs. If not, they must now enforce sporting sanctions on the debtor, which are as follows:
The member association concerned in the matter will be required to automatically implement a point deduction as of the first day following the expiry of the granted deadline, unless the debtor club provides evidence to the committee and the member association to confirm that the amount has been settled before the expiration of the final deadline.
It is not possible to avoid the implementation of the point deduction, even if the debtor complies with the decision after the expiration of the final deadline.
If a member association fails to automatically implement said sanction and provide the committee with proof of the point deduction, the association may be become the subject of disciplinary proceedings, which could lead to expulsion from all FIFA competitions.
Unless a debtor can demonstrate that the financial penalty has been settled, a transfer ban will automatically be implemented in the transfer match system by the secretariat to the committee, to begin from the first day of the next registration period following the expiry of the granted deadline. The association concerned, is then obliged to automatically implement a transfer ban at a national level.
Such a ban may only be lifted at both national and international level only by the committee prior to its complete service upon the confirmation of receipt of payment by the creditor.
As above, if the member association fails to automatically implement of the transfer ban and provide proof of the implementation of the sanction, disciplinary proceedings may be opened against the association, which could potentially lead to expulsion from all FIFA competitions.
The effect of settlement agreements
The committee has clarified that it will no longer enforce financial decisions, should the parties reach a settlement agreement and/or a payment play after the notification of the decision. This agreement will automatically lead to the closure of disciplinary proceedings, with any claim resulting from a breach of such agreements will need to before the players’ status committee or dispute resolution chambers, or before the bodies at national/international level agreed between the parties.
The aforementioned changes by the committee do not necessarily have an impact on the sanctions available for failing to adhere to a decision imposed by a body, committee or an instance of FIFA or a subsequent Court of Arbitration for Sport decision. But, the changes do serve to ensure that those decisions are complied with in a timely manner, with further requirements placed upon associations to ensure that they have complied with their now duties under Article 64. Failure to do so could lead to serious penalties, which could result in the associations expulsion from all FIFA competitions.
By Martin Haisley, graduate paralegal in the regulatory department