By Carlos Kambaekwa
The days of soccer clubs being seen and administered as community entities will soon follow the path of the dinosaur following the introduction of FIFA Club Licensing Regulations.
In its effort to streamline the game of football globally and bring the standard of all its affiliates on par with each other, the world’s football governing body at its 57th Congress held in Zurich in May last year accepted and approved proposals aimed at taking football to the next level.
The FIFA Club Licensing Regulations form the basic working document for the club licensing system through which the different members of the football family promote common principals in the world of football such as sporting values, financial transparency, ownership and control of clubs and the credibility and integrity of club competitions.
The club licensing system sees that clubs participating in international club competitions fulfill minimum standard requirements.
For this particular purpose to function properly, first the confederations will establish confederation club licensing regulations, then the member associations will transpose the confederation regulations into national club licensing regulations which will serve as regulations for their affiliated clubs.
The clubs, or “license applicants” will undergo an application procedure conducted by the respective member association, or “licensor”.
The Confederations and FIFA will play a supervisory role in the implementation of the club licensing system.
The first part of the FIFA Club Licensing Regulations concerns the licensor, whereas the second part deals with license applicants.
The licensor controls the licensing system, elects the licensing bodies and conducts the admission process. There are two bodies which decide on license applications.
The “first instance” body decides whether a license should be granted to an applicant and if the applicant is refused by this first body or the licensor does not agree with its decision, a second body called the “appeals” body makes a final and binding decision.
In the assessment process called “core process”, a number of formal requirements must be met such as deadlines for submission of the licensing documentation, the verification of the criteria by suitably qualified staff, the eligibility, independence and confidentiality of the decision-making bodies and the submission of the list of the licensed clubs to the federation.
The license is a prerequisite for entering confederation competitions as well as national club competitions (should the member association so desire). The applicants must fulfill a minimum of requirements which are divided into five categories:
1) Sporting criteria (approval of youth development programme by the licensor, youth teams).
2) Infrastructure criteria (certification of a stadium training facilities).
3) Personnel and administrative criteria (club secretariat, general manager, finance officer, security officer, doctor and physiotherapist, head coach of first team squad, head of youth development programme, youth coaches, safety and security organization, stewarding).
4) Legal criteria (legally valid declaration, statutes and extract of register, ownership and control of clubs), and
5) Financial criteria (annual financial statements, no payables overdue).
Each set of criteria is split into three different grades (“A”, “B” and “C”)
a) “A” criteria – “MANDATORY”: If the license applicant does not fulfill any “A” criteria, then it cannot be granted a license to enter confederation/national club competitions.
b) “B” criteria –
“MANDATORY”: If the license applicant does not fulfill any “B” criteria, then it is sanctioned as specified by the licensor but may still receive a license to enter confederation/national club competitions.
c) “C” criteria – “BEST PRACTICE”: “C” criteria are best-practice recommendations. Non-fulfillment of any “C” criteria does not lead to any sanction or to the refusal of the license. Certain “C” criteria may become mandatory criteria at a later stage.
The confederations shall establish confederation club licensing regulations by the 2009-2010 season at the latest.
The member associations shall then transform the confederation club licensing regulations into national club licensing regulations and implement the club licensing system at national level by the 2010-2011season at the latest.
The FIFA Club licensing regulations came into force on January 1 2008.