FIFA Rules | Regulation of Player Contracts

Article IV

Article IV concerns the maintenance of contractual stability between professionals and clubs.

18. Special provisions relating to contracts between professionals and clubs

If an intermediary is involved in the negotiation of a contract, he shall be named in that contract.

The minimum length of a contract shall be from its effective date until the end of the season, while the maximum length of a contract shall be five years. Contracts of any other length shall only be permitted if consistent with national laws. Players under the age of 18 may not sign a professional contract for a term longer than three years. Any clause referring to a longer period shall not be recognised.

A club intending to conclude a contract with a professional must inform the player’s current club in writing before entering into negotiations with him. A professional shall only be free to conclude a contract with another club if his contract with his present club has expired or is due to expire within six months. Any breach of this provision shall be subject to appropriate sanctions.

The validity of a contract may not be made subject to a successful medical examination or the grant of a work permit.

If a professional enters into more than one contract covering the same period, the provisions set forth in Chapter IV shall apply.

Pratical considerations of the above:

There is a limit on the length of a player contract. (5 years) However, FIFA permits a contract to be longer if it is permitted under a particular country’s domestic laws.

A team cannot simply enter into contract talks with a player (or his agent) who is under contract. Before doing so, the team has to notify the player’s current team in writing. Further, unless the player is in his last six months of his existing contract, he cannot conclude a new contract with the new team. If the player’s contract has expired, the FIFA rules are in agreement with generally-recognised principles of contract law – meaning he is free to sign with a new team.

Due to the fact that the rules prohibit a player’s contract from being subject to conditions precedent such as the successful completion of a medical examination or the receipt of a work visa, the contract can only be officially executed after these prerequisites have been satisfied. The contract may be “agreed to in principle” and it might be reported as a deal having been met, but the actual signing will only occur after the medical exam and the receipt of the applicable work permits, if any.

Cover Photo: Leo Messi and president Josep Maria Bartomeu pictured as he signs his new contract on 25 Nov. 2017. | CREDIT: BARCELONA FC