Fifa is drawing up plans to extend player contracts until the
end of delayed domestic seasons and shift transfer window
dates, as global football responds to the coronavirus shutdown.
The sport’s international governing body is looking at how to
restructure the contracts of thousands of players and coaches
worldwide. It has also recommended that transfer windows —
when players can move between clubs — should be extended to
fit new season dates, according to a Fifa document seen by the
Domestic football competitions have been paused due to the
global pandemic. Flagship tournaments such as the Euro 2020
Championships and Copa America, national team
tournaments in Europe and South America, have been
postponed until next year.
Many domestic leagues, particularly in Europe, want to extend
their seasons into the summer and beyond in the hope of
defending lucrative broadcast contracts that will go unpaid if
remaining matches are scrapped. But employment contracts
for many players expire on June 30, giving many the right to
move to other clubs for free after this date.
According to the Fifa document, a key proposal is that “where
an agreement is due to expire at the original end date of a
season, such expiry be extended until the new end date of the
Such a move would radically alter footballers’ contracts,
pushing back the end date or when they are likely to be paid.
Across Europe, the lack of income because of suspended
matches has been stretching club finances. Germany’s
Borussia Dortmund and England’s Leeds United are among
those to have agreed wage deferrals with players. Even Spain’s
FC Barcelona, the world’s highest earning club, is in talks with
its players over temporary pay cuts.
Fifa’s proposals suggest that to “ensure clubs do not
bankrupt”, they, players and coaches “work together” to agree
pay deferrals or cuts, but added: “Alternatively, all agreements
between clubs and employees should be ‘suspended’ during
any work stoppage . . . provided adequate alternative income
support arrangements can be found.”
John Mehrzad, a sports barrister at Littleton Chambers in the
UK, said on Twitter that these proposal would be
“unenforceable” in the English Premier League, the world’s
most valuable domestic competition, as they would be
tantamount to forcing footballers to play against their will.
Fifa declined to comment. But its internal document suggests
the organisation considers the pandemic a “force majeure”
event that prevents current contracts from being fulfilled. Its
top executives will discuss the proposals further next week,
hoping to gain agreement for the plan.
The Financial Times