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Bureau of the FIFA Council approves International Match Protocol and adapts rules on release of players

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  • FIFA’s Return to Football – International Match Protocol approved for implementation to ensure the safe return of international football
  • Regulations for World Cup qualifiers adapted to reflect the new mandatory measures and the use of up to five substitutions
  • Rules on the release of players temporarily amended to provide the flexibility and assurance needed for all national teams, clubs and players

In light of the current evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bureau of the FIFA Council has approved FIFA’s Return to Football – International Match Protocol, which FIFA today shared with its 211 member associations and the six confederations.

FIFA’s Return to Football – International Match Protocol is the result of an extensive consultation process with the six confederations and stakeholder representatives. It provides important safeguards for the health and safety of players and delegates while simultaneously facilitating a return to play and the provision of exemptions by local authorities, where relevant.

The FIFA protocol allows for the use of equivalent protocols, such as those that have already been developed and successfully implemented by confederations in international matches to date.

A dedicated FIFA team has been established to provide hands-on assistance with, support for and coordination in the implementation of the required measures and safeguards for all international matches.

Measures to prevent the spread or reintroduction of COVID-19
In line with the recommendations issued by the World Health Organization, FIFA’s Return to Football – International Match Protocol defines a set of preventative measures to be implemented in the footprint of matches and all official sites:

  • Strict monitoring and testing of players, delegates and officials
  • Hand hygiene
  • Respiratory hygiene
  • Physical distancing
  • Cleaning and hygiene regimes
  • Risk communication and awareness
  • Defining and tracing contacts
  • Management of people with COVID-19, its symptoms and their contacts
  • Management responsibility and planning

The FIFA protocol also contains detailed operational implementation guidelines covering a variety of key aspects such as logistical considerations, match operations, media and broadcasting, the workforce and the return of spectators.

FIFA World Cup 2022™ preliminary competition in the spotlight
Since the protocol will be implemented for the FIFA World Cup 2022™ qualifiers, the relevant competition regulations have been amended accordingly: the amendments include the ability for participating teams to use up to five substitutes during matches.

Release of players temporarily adapted
The Bureau of the FIFA Council has also approved several temporary amendments to the Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players. In making this decision, the Bureau took into consideration the role the FIFA protocol will play in the mitigation of risks related to COVID-19 and in obtaining the required exemptions from authorities for sportspersons travelling internationally for the purpose of matches with their national teams.

Temporary amendments

  1. These temporary amendments shall apply to all international windows for men’s football, women’s football, and futsal scheduled for the remainder of 2020.
  2. All international matches taking place in those windows are required to apply FIFA’s Return to Football – International Match Protocol or an equivalent protocol of the relevant confederation compliant with the said Protocol.
  3. The rules relating to release of players to association teams, as provided for in Annexe 1 [of the Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players], apply as normal except where:

i. there is a mandatory period of quarantine or self-isolation of at least five (5) days upon arrival in:

a. the location of the club which has an obligation to release the player to an association team; or

b. the location where a representative team match is scheduled to take place; or

ii. there is a travel restriction to or from either location (a. or b. above); and

iii. a specific exemption from the relevant authorities relating to the above decisions has not been granted to players of a representative team.

FIFA together with the confederations and member associations will continue to monitor the situation regarding the travel and quarantine policies of the relevant authorities in relation to the upcoming international matches.

FIFA strongly urges all member associations, clubs and players to work together in a spirit of solidarity to share information and find compromises for the benefit of all parties concerned under the regulatory framework that has now been temporarily adapted.

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