FIFA has announced new regulations which will look to improve the rights and position of women and coaches.

Legal certainty for football coaches

Coaches are hugely important in the modern game. They are forever in the spotlight and are the ones who most come under scrutiny in the media pre/post match. As we all know – when things go wrong, they can also quickly find themselves in the firing line.

Case in point – there are 92 clubs in the top English divisions and 52 managers lost their job during the 2019-20 season. That’s quite a percentage.

So how do coaches fit into the rules and regulations of the modern game? It’s been a bone of contention of late that while players have been afforded a level of protection through FIFA regulations (via the Regulations on the Status and Transfers of Players (“RSTP”)), coaches are not part of that framework (as confirmed by recent decisions of the Court of Arbitration for Sport).

FIFA has now announced that they will be amending the RSTP to provide coaches/managers ‘the same legal certainty and clarity that is afforded to players’. That is a significant development and should also see FIFA bodies being able to decide employment-related disputes involving coaches.

We need to wait to see the detail behind the changes once they are approved by the FIFA Council in December 2020, but the changes should include:

  • More standardised contracts for coaches (ensuring each includes elements such as parties’ rights, duration and remuneration);
  • Greater certainty and contractual stability to mirror provisions that exist for players;
  • Allowing FIFA to take sanctions against clubs/associations where there are ‘overdue payables’ to coaches (as it can for player contracts).

If approved, the changes will likely have significant changes to the employment position and rights of coaches and managers in football.

Better working conditions for female football players

The Women’s game has grown significantly over the last few years, both in terms of participation and exposure.

Alongside that, FIFA has reviewed the protections afforded to female players and has decided to amend the RSTP to provide better working conditions for female players including:

  • Maternity leave –a minimum of 14 weeks’ paid leave (at least eight weeks after birth) paid at two thirds of the contractual salary. This is a minimum basic level – to apply where there aren’t greater rights in existence in a particular country.
  • The right to return – the player has a right to return to the club and reintegrate into football (with appropriate medical support). The player will be entitled to breastfeed and/or express milk, with suitable facilities being required.
  • Registration changes – to help clubs, clubs will be allowed to register a player outside of a registration window to temporarily replace a player on maternity leave.
  • Alternate employment during pregnancy – in order to ensure pregnant players are not put at risk, players will be entitled to provide services in an alternate manner (and the club must work with the player to formalise a plan for alternative employment/role);
  • Sanctions for dismissal – any club terminating a player’s contract due to pregnancy will be obliged to pay compensation and will be subject to sporting sanctions.

What happens next?

These changes will take effect if approved by the FIFA Council in December 2020.

Both of these regulatory updates will have an impact on clubs and associations in football and how they operate.

Clubs and associations must plan ahead to make sure they are ready for the changes that will be coming.

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