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FIFPro is concerned by the situation of minor footballers as described by Chilean investigative journalist Juan Pablo Meneses. Given the young age and the vulnerability of these children, FIFPro demands more effective regulations to protect them from any form of abuse or exploitation.

 

In his book ‘Niños Futbolistas (Boy Footballers)’, Meneses signals that many young football players in South America aged 12 or younger are being bought by agents, who are planning to transfer them to clubs abroad. Meneses writes that the moment the kids are ‘bought’ they are no longer children playing football, but workers.

 

FIFPro has received confirmation from its South American players’ associations that the practices described by Meneses in his book represent the reality in their countries. Therefore, FIFPro cannot accept the situation.

 

The following matters need to be addressed:

  • There must be more clarity concerning the transfer of minor players under 12. FIFA Rules and Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players (RSTP) are not fully clear in this respect. Even though the RSTP prohibit all transfers of minor players, it only regulates the transfers of minor players between the ages of 12 and 18;
  • Many agents manage to transfer minor players regardless of the RSTP and TMS, apparently due to loopholes in the RSTP and/or TMS. FIFPro expects FIFA to address these loopholes in order to guarantee that transfers of minor players can only take place in exceptional situations;
  • Third party ownership (TPO): the children are being ‘bought’ by agents, who mostly are only looking for the benefit of a future transfer to a club abroad. As a rule they are not acting for the benefit of the child. They are taking advantage of the family’s poor living conditions and/or lack of education;
  • There are many examples of agents becoming legal guardians of the players. Some agents are guardian of various players. FIFPro considers this a clear invasion of human rights and children’s rights.

 

FIFPro urges FIFA and all other stakeholders to take action. In the world of football there is no place for child labour or child abuse (both psychological – hopes and frustration - and physical – excessive training). Children should play the game of football and can never be part of football business.

 

FIFPro will address all these matters in its FIFPro Expert Group meetings.