FIFA is finally ready to enforce limits on the number of players clubs can send and take on loans internationally, two years after new rules were delayed by the pandemic.
The plans FIFA outlined on Thursday aim to stop wealthy clubs stockpiling players they have signed, encourage developing their young talent, and promote competitive balance in football.
However, curbs that should take effect in July have a limited scope — players aged 21 and under are exempt from FIFA’s rules — and need further cooperation from national football federations to pass their own measures.
EIGHT PLAYERS LIMIT
Clubs will be limited to a maximum of eight players loaned in and eight players loaned out at any one time in the 2022-23 season.
The quotas will be cut to seven in the season after and six from the season starting after July 1, 2024.
Clubs will also be restricted to the number of deals they can do with a favoured trading partner in another country: Three players in and three players out at any given point with the same club.
Short-term deals should also be barred. The minimum loan deal will be between two transfer windows — typically these are in January and June-August during the European offseason — and the maximum period will be one year.
Sub-loaning of a player already sent out on loan will be barred.
FIFA said its proposed rules do not apply to players aged 21 and younger, and club-trained players.
That means a club with a well-stocked academy such as Chelsea could send out an unlimited number of homegrown teenagers to wherever it chose.
FIFA’s rules also apply internationally, to cross-border deals between clubs from different countries.
In each FIFA member country, applying and enforcing a separate set of rules could lag behind.
“At domestic level, FIFA’s member associations will be granted a period of three years to implement rules for a loan system that is in line with the principles established at international level,” the Zurich-based governing body said.
FIFA has worked since 2017 on finding ways to modernize and clean up the player transfer market, which involves thousands of deals and is worth billions of dollars each season.
Among the concerns – wealthy clubs hoarding players which shrunk the pool of available talent and controlled access to them for less wealthy rivals seeking loan deals.
FIFA’s stakeholder committee proposed new limits on the loan system in 2020 that were due to apply later that year and would be phased in over three seasons. The pandemic put that on hold.
On Thursday, FIFA said the loan system proposal will go to the next meeting of its ruling council, likely in March, and apply for international deals from July 1.
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