Rules of release: Who wins when it's club v country?

THE often tetchy relationship between club and country seemed to reach breaking point this week, with Jurgen Klopp, Jose Mourinho and Ronald Koeman all furious about the international calendar.

Nilo Effori

Everton boss Koeman was livid the Republic of Ireland had played James McCarthy against Wales despite warnings about doing so from his medical staff, while Mourinho and Klopp were unhappy that 'meaningless' friendlies were being played at all.

Where do clubs stand if the relationship becomes really nasty? What happens if they refuse to play ball with Fifa and the international confederations? We asked top sports lawyer Nilo Effori (right) for the answers.


1. What are the rules about the release of players?

The rules regarding the release of players to association teams are contained in Annex 1 of the Fifa Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players.

These include releasing players for a ’period of preparation’ as well as for the match. This period is 48 hours for friendlies, five days for qualifiers in different confederations, and 14 days before the first match of an international tournament.

 2. What are the potential punishments if a club refuses to release a player?

Clubs are obliged to release their registered players to representative teams if they are called up. Any agreement between a player and a club to the contrary is prohibited.

According to Article Six of the regulations, violations of any of the provisions shall result in the imposition of disciplinary measures to be decided by the Fifa Disciplinary Committee. This could be a warning or suspension, for example.

It is not compulsory to release players outside of an international window or outside the final competitions, as per the Fifa match calendar.

 3. How are clubs compensated for releasing players?

According to Article Two of the regulations, clubs are not entitled to financial compensation for releasing a player.

 4. How are clubs compensated if a player is injured on international duty?

The club is responsible for providing a player's insurance cover against illness and accident during the entire period of his international release. This cover must also extend to any injuries sustained by the player during the international match(es) for which he was released.

Nevertheless, if a player suffers an injury caused by an accident and is, as a consequence of this injury, temporarily totally disabled, the club will be indemnified by Fifa. The terms and conditions of the indemnification, including the loss-handling procedures, are set out in Fifa's Club Protection Programme.

5. What are the stages of dispute resolution if the club/ federation/ FIFA cannot resolve the above?

The dispute will be solved by the Fifa Player’s Status Committee or by the Fifa Disciplinary Committee at first instance. After this, the parties may appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport for a final decision.

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