FIFA may provide player insurance

Fifa is in dispute with the G14 group of clubs over who should pay to insure players on national duty, and pay their wages, should the stars then be injured.

Fifa rules say players must be released for international football without entitlement to financial compensation.

But in a surprise move Fifa says it is now “ready to reform the regulation”.

Heinz Taennler, the director of Fifa’s legal division in Zurich, says Fifa is now prepared to look at establishing an insurance fund and compensation fund for international players.

Fifa is currently being sued by a Belgian club Charleroi ‘ backed by the G14 group of rich clubs ‘ over an injury suffered on international duty by Morocco’s Abdelmajid Oulmers. The G14 group of rich clubs includes among others, Manchester United, Real Madrid, AC Milan, Juventus, Chelsea, Liverpool and Barcelona.

Charleroi say the loss of Oulmers to injury during an international assignment damaged their hopes of success, and they also had to pay his wages while he was out of action.

In May, the case was moved from a tribunal in Charleroi to the European Court of Justice, where it is waiting to be heard.

Taennler said that sometimes after international duty the clubs had “a player, an employee, not available for a short time, or sometimes a long time, but still had to be paid”.

“Fifa wants to take the clubs into consideration,” he continued. “In order to do this, Fifa will probably reform the regulation at some time in the future. We are working on the possibility of an insurance fund, and compensation fund,” Taennler said at the World Sport Law Report Summit, recently. “This will take time as Fifa is a political organization.”

This move was initially brought up in June during the World Cup when Liverpool striker Djibrel Cisse was injured on June 7 while playing in a friendly match for France, a day before the world cup started. The striker had joined French club Marseille before the world cup on a season-long loan from Liverpool and was yet to kick a ball for Marseille as league action only started end of July. His injury was estimated to last for six months ‘ at which time Cisse’s tenure at Marseille would already have expired. Both Marseille and Liverpool cried foul.

The current Fifa rules state the clubs are responsible for insurance cover against illness and accident during the entire period of a player’s release. This cover must also extend to any injuries sustained by the player during the international matches for which he was released.

Taennler told delegates at the World Sport Law Report event that a start had been made during the summer with the establishment of Fifa’s World Cup compensation fund.

That US$12m fund was designed to help poorer nations, whose football authorities could not afford the sort of insurance cover taken out by nations, such as England and Germany.

October 2006
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