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As of 1 October 2010, the FIFA Transfer Matching System (TMS) must be used for all international football transfers. FIFPro has an important role in the fight for more transparency in transfers involving under-age players. ‘This system is a significant step in the right direction.’


TMS is an online system that makes international transfers more transparent. FIFA has introduced this system in February 2008. At this moment it has been implemented in all its member associations and in 3,633 clubs.


Clubs and federations are obliged to enter mandatory information in the TMS. If not all parties fulfill the conditions outlined in the FIFA Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players (RSTP), then the transfer will be blocked. The same goes if these parties provide divergent information.


On behalf of FIFPro, secretary general Theo van Seggelen plays a vital role in the protection of under-age players (‘minors’). Each international transfer of a minor is closely monitored. Via mandatory documents the club needs to deliver the proof that the transfer meets the requirements outlined in the RSTP. For each case at least six documents need to be uploaded in the TMS. 


As a judge Theo van Seggelen has to decide whether he accepts or rejects a transfer application. Since FIFA appointed him together with ten other judges one year ago, Van Seggelen has had his fair share of cases of the total amount of 921 cases that FIFA has handled according to its Legal Director Marco Villiger. In total all 11 judges accepted 747 applications and rejected 174.


Those numbers reflect what Van Seggelen has experienced. ‘Up to now this system functions reasonably’, says the secretary general looking back on last year. ‘Obviously, the TMS is still not entirely perfect and there are still some remarks and comments to be made. But a significant step in the right direction has been taken.’


‘Clubs, federations and players must deliver clear evidence that the transfer meets the strict obligations. In numerous occasions I had to reject the transfer because of the fact that the evidence was insufficient. In some cases it was revolting to see with what sort of minimal information clubs and players think that they can finalize a transfer. But, belief me that there was correct evidence in all of the many transfers I approved.’


FIFA says it has noted a significant drop in players under-18 being transferred, especially within South America. In the past, South American clubs complained that European teams have managed to poach players from their youth divisions by arranging a job for the boys' parents, then using that as a pretext that he is moving for family reasons. Since the introduction of the TMS, this practice has become almost impossible.


Van Seggelen is satisfied with the current outcome. But the secretary general of FIFPro also drew up a list of critical remarks concerning TMS. ‘One of the things that worries me is, what happens to a player after his transfer has been rejected, whilst he has already moved to the country of the club involved.’


‘I intend to evaluate my findings as to TMS together with FIFA in the near future. Up to now the cooperation with FIFA’s Players’ Status Committee runs smoothly, and I assume that together we will be able to refine upon the TMS.’