Contractual disputes between coaches and federations/ clubs were until recently dealt with under the same articles of the Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players (“RSTP”) as contractual disputes between players and clubs.
Since 1 January 2021, however, several amendments have been made to the RSTP as well as to the Rules Governing the Procedures of the Players’ Status Committee and the Dispute Resolution Chamber (“Procedural Rules”) and a new regulatory framework for coaches has been incorporated in the new Annexe 8 of the RSTP.
As stated in the FIFA Annual Review 2021, the provision of a minimum regulatory framework for football coaches creates legal certainty regarding their employment relationships with a club or association.
The new provisions are almost the same as those applicable to players, on which the decisions of FIFA's decision-making bodies are based in the context of contractual disputes relating to coaches.
With respect to disputes concerning the termination of a contract, it should be reminded that the FIFA jurisprudence considers that a contract may be terminated without the payment of compensation where there is just cause. FIFA decision-making bodies consider there is just cause when:
o It is established that a party has engaged in abusive conduct aiming at forcing the counterparty to terminate the contract with just cause, or
o When two outstanding salaries remain unlawfully unpaid, despite a formal notice to pay the amounts due within a minimum period provided for in the RSTP. It must be noted that the RSTP provisions provide that collective bargaining agreements may deviate from these principles and shall prevail.
If it is considered that the termination of a contract took place without just cause, the party in breach shall pay compensation.
These new provisions will be applicable to employment relationships between coaches and professional clubs or associations. Futsal coaches will also be subject to these new provisions. In this respect, another improvement is that the terms “coach”, “professional club”, and “purely amateur club” are now expressly defined, to avoid confusion and difficulties related to the question of the jurisdiction of FIFA arbitral bodies.
Finally, it may also be noted that coaches are now able to benefit from specific legal frameworks for overdue payables and enforcement of FIFA decisions.
Thanks to her experience within the FIFA Players' Status Department and as a sports lawyer, Audrey Bruin assists coaches and clubs in the resolution of contractual disputes they may encounter.
Link to the FIFA circular n°1743: