After almost 15 years without any major changes to its Disciplinary Code, FIFA´s new vision has now been reflected in the 2019 edition. The new code has been developed in consultation with the six confederations and other key football stakeholders. It is better structured, clearer, more concise (down from 147 articles to 72), more transparent and incorporates innovative modifications in the context of FIFA’s disciplinary proceedings.
Content-wise, topics like racism and discrimination have been updated, putting FIFA at the forefront of the fight against this appalling attack on the fundamental human rights of individuals.
In consultation with the Fare network, the principle of zero tolerance on racism and any form of discrimination has been updated in line with FIFA President´s recent statement to the effect that discrimination has no place in football and FIFA will not hesitate to tackle any form of discriminatory behaviour. There are three important points to highlight in this regard:
The scope, definition and content of our anti-racism and anti-discrimination vision have been fully aligned with the highest international standards, including the prosecution of any discrimination on account of race, skin colour, ethnic, national or social origin, gender, disability, sexual orientation, language, religion, political opinion, wealth, birth or any other status or any other reason;
As a general rule, a match is automatically forfeited if the referee decides to abandon it after having applied the three-step procedure for discriminatory incidents;
For reoffenders involved in racist or discriminatory incidents or if the circumstances of the case require it, the disciplinary measures now include the implementation of a prevention plan to foster education on diversity and fight discrimination in football.
Also, FIFA’s Disciplinary Committee may permit the victim to make a statement, allowing the latter to participate in the proceedings. FIFA will not let down victims of racist abuse.
The fight against match manipulation has also been simplified and the Disciplinary Committee is now the only body competent to deal with match manipulation matters at FIFA level.
Another key principle of the new code is FIFA´s commitment to enforce both financial and non-financial decisions and agreements rendered by the FIFA Dispute Resolution Chamber and the Players’ Status Committee, as the natural forums of disputes between clubs, players, associations, coaches and other football stakeholders, through the Disciplinary Committee.
FIFA must use its prominent global position to deliver financial justice, and where relevant, to exercise its power as world football’s governing body.
In this area, the new code contemplates three main changes:
FIFA will enforce ordinary CAS awards: the mechanism provided to enforce CAS appeal proceedings has been extended to ordinary CAS awards, with the result that all CAS decisions will now be enforced by FIFA.
FIFA will impose a transfer ban on clubs not paying outstanding amounts until they have paid all of their debts. A transfer ban has been shown to be the most effective instrument for this purpose.
FIFA will act against the sporting successor of a debtor, a practice that has unfortunately become more common in recent years as clubs attempt to avoid mandatory financial responsibilities towards other clubs, players, managers, etc.
Also, in the interests of respecting the rights of individuals and transparency during proceedings, FIFA has decided to close the gap that exists between individuals in terms of their financial power by supporting those who have insufficient financial means at disciplinary proceedings. FIFA legal aid will provide financial support as well as access to adequate counsel who will act on a pro bono basis.
Moreover, for the first time, certain types of disciplinary hearings – concerning doping and match-manipulation cases – will be open to the public if the parties request it.
Finally, a dedicated FIFA website (legal.fifa.com) will be launched in the final quarter of 2019 containing the main decisions passed by the FIFA judicial bodies as well other useful legal resources.
These, and many more, are the fundamental changes of the new FIFA Disciplinary Code, which will come into force on 15 July 2019. It will provide FIFA with a unique legal instrument to confront the many disciplinary issues that it and its stakeholders will face in the future in a reliable and innovative manner.