1751 Savage Road, Richmond, BC

FIFA Regulation Stalls at the Provincial Association Level

In an effort to protect minors, FIFA recently enacted new legislation requiring all national soccer associations to register players from private soccer academies. All governing bodies were supposed to comply with this new legislation by October 1, 2009. In Canada, however, compliance with this new FIFA regulation has stalled. Provincial associations have asked the Canadian Soccer Association(CSA) for an interpretation of the wording in regulation 19 bis. The CSA, in turn, has asked FIFA for clarification. The regulation states:

Each association is obliged to ensure that all academies without legal, financial or de facto links to a all minors who attend the academy for the purpose of training to the association upon whose territory the academy operates.

The intention of the new FIFA legislation is to get all unregistered players across the country on the books of the national association. This will allow better monitoring of all players who play the game country wide.

Back in May at the FIFA conference in Nassau, the new regulations were ratified by members. These regulations were to come into to play on October 1, 2009 without amendment through the national associations. The deadline is now three weeks past.

"Apparently, the provincial associations have asked for the definition of the word "report" and want to know if it means the same as "register," says Colin Elmes, Managing Director of TSS Academy in Richmond, BC. "Clearly the provincial associations are hoping that the word "report" does not mean "register" because that will force them to include the numerous players who train and play at academies into the system."

If FIFA confirms that academy players do not need to be "registered" and only need to be "reported", this would oblige academies to disclose names and birthdates of "unregistered" players to the governing bodies without necessarily earning the benefits of registering these players.

"This is is just typical of our provincial associations," continues Elmes. "They're trying to spin this into a one way governance issue on their behalf. I can assure you that TSS Academy will not be disclosing anything to the provincial and national associations without something in return that will benefit both our members and our organization."

TSS Academy is British Columbia's largest soccer academy and a member of the Soccer Academy Alliance of Canada (SAAC) based out of Ontario. TSS is one of nine members of the Alliance.

"In talking with my peers at SAAC, I know that the academies support each other on this issue. It is our hope that FIFA comes back with a more inclusive view so groups like ours can be recognized by the system here in Canada. If FIFA falls on the side of the provinces, the goal of getting these players registered at the association level will not happen. FIFA's regulations involving the protection of minors will fail in this country and the status quo will remain. And that would be a shame," says Elmes.