Soccer-FIFA hopeful transfer system complaint will be withdrawn

ZURICH (Reuters) - FIFA has struck a deal which it hopes will lead to world players’ union FIFPRo withdrawing a legal complaint against the transfer system at the European Commission (EC).

A TV team is reflected in a logo of FIFA a meeting of the FIFA Council at its headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland October 13, 2016. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

FIFPro itself, however, said it was premature to talk about dropping the complaint which it lodged in 2015 and argued that the transfer system was anti-competitive and illegal.

FIFA’s stakeholders’ committee said after a meeting on Thursday that it had reached an agreement which would make it easier for players leave their clubs if they were not being paid on time.

“It was an issue that was stewing for a long, long time and they couldn’t come to an agreement, but because of our impetus they’ve reached one,” Victor Montagliani, head of the committee, told reporters on Thursday.

“We all like to get’s an employment labour issue and to me that’s very important.”

Montagliani said the agreement also involved the European Club Association (ECA), the world players’ union FIFPro and the World Leagues Forum, which represents major domestic soccer leagues.

FIFA said that, in return, FIFPro had agreed that it would withdraw its legal complaint which, if successful, could cause the biggest upheaval to the sport since the Bosman ruling in 1995.

FIFPro said talks were constructive but added: “It’s premature to discuss what might happen next regarding our legal complaint against the transfer system, or any prospective deal until we are satisfied with the proposals put forth.”

FIFPro argues that the transfer regulations prevent clubs from fairly competing in the market to acquire sporting talent and, in doing so, harm the interests of players, small and medium-sized professional teams and their supporters.

The case involving former player Jean-Marc Bosman paved the way for players in the European Union to move to another club at the end of a contract without a transfer fee being paid. It had a major impact internationally.

FIFA said the new agreement would make it much easier for a player who has not been paid his wages to leave a club although it could not give precise details because the agreement still has to be finalised.

FIFPro argues that the payments issue is only a small part of the overall picture.

Editing by Ed Osmond