With the coronavirus pandemic bringing soccer around the world to a pause, FIFA has established some new guidelines to deal with the unprecedented situation. On Tuesday, FIFA announced a variety of changes that are being proposed to deal with the suspended seasons, including what will happen with player contracts and the transfer window.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has clearly changed all the factual circumstances around football for this season. So, FIFA, together with the stakeholders, has come up with some practical ideas and proposals to tackle these new circumstances. Whilst this will not solve each and every problem, it should serve to bring a measure of stability and clarity to football for the foreseeable future. We hope that this collaborative effort, under the leadership of FIFA, can provide a positive example of how football can come together and show unity, solidarity and a spirit of compromise in order to face the challenging times ahead. But before these times come, one thing must be clear to everyone, especially now: health comes first, well before football," FIFA President Gianni Infantino said on FIFA.com.
Here are the key things to know from the new set of guidelines:
This is a big one, because a lot of players may be in the final year of their contract with it expiring over the summer or other players could be nearing the end of a loan deal. The proposal is for contracts to be extended until the season actually ends, be it July, August or whenever. So if a contract was to expire June 30, it will now expire when the season is completed. Also, players who have signed to join a club for next season will do so when the 2020-21 season actually begins. So, it's essentially keeping these contracts with their intentions, just on an altered timeline.
The summer transfer window will be adjusted like the contracts. Officials are aiming to move the transfer window between the end of this season and the beginning of next season, whenever that may be. Some leagues have different days for when their transfer window opens and closes, and no specific dates were mentioned as it all depends when this season actually finishes. It's unclear if the window would be potentially shortened if the offseason has to be cut.
FIFA stated the following in regards to the window:
At the same time, FIFA will try to ensure, where possible, an overall level of coordination and will also bear in mind the need to protect the regularity, integrity and proper functioning of competitions, so that the sporting results of any competition are not unfairly disrupted.
The guidelines also suggest that clubs and players work together to find agreements to help with the financial impact. As we've seen from Barcelona, Juventus and other clubs, numerous players and coaches are accepting reduced salaries to help clubs during this time and especially to help full-time employees of the clubs. FIFA said it will handle cases of parties who can not come to an agreement.