Legal and compliances
Football governance

Legal and compli­ance

4 min. reading time

Fair and transpa­rent

One of FIFA’s key goals under The Vision 2020-2023 is to modernise the football regulatory framework.
The organisation wasted no time in doing just that in 2020, pushing ahead with a range of reforms and initiatives aimed at making the rules and regulations of football work better for stakeholders and increasing the wealth of information available to the football family.

3ʳᵈ FIFA Compliance Summit ­

I am heartened to hear of FIFA’s renewed commitment to transparency and ethical behaviour and its desire to improve the compliance environment throughout all of football.
Loretta E. Lynch
Former US Attorney General

Bringing together governance and compliance experts and practitioners, the 3rd FIFA Compliance Summit opened with keynote speeches on best practice and emerging trends in compliance and good governance from such notable speakers as former US Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch and Director of the Ethics Office of the United Nations Secretariat Elia Yi Armstrong.

The week-long summit saw over 380 individual participants from more than 150 member associations (MAs) take part in practical working sessions on the first-ever FIFA Compliance Handbook.

Lynch highlighted FIFA’s commitment to compliance: “It was not too long ago that the world of football found itself in a state of upheaval and chaos as a result of the systemic corruption and misconduct over decades. Since then, together with all of you, FIFA has made great efforts to educate, train and promote a culture of compliance. Thank you, President Infantino, for your acknowledgement of the importance of compliance.”

FIFA Compliance Handbook

The first-ever FIFA Compliance Handbook is an interactive tool that aims to provide MAs and the confederations with practical guidance and scalable building blocks that can be used to develop a tailored compliance programme within their organisation. It covers the basic principles and benefits of adopting compliance guidelines and financial governance best practices.

Compliance 3.0

In 2020, FIFA rolled out a more dynamic compliance programme. Compliance 3.0 is based on two pillars: the first is about making compliance processes and resources more relevant and accessible to all stakeholders in a simplified and interactive format. The second pillar focuses on technology for a more efficient compliance function tailored to the needs of FIFA, as exemplified by a new compliance portal that forms a one-stop shop for all compliance-related topics. 

Reporting for transparency

FIFA continued to bring greater openness and transparency to its internal processes in 2020 by publishing all of its statements, reports and decisions on its dedicated platform, 

The most important publications included the first-ever annual report of the Players’ Status Department, as well as reports on the activities of the two main independent judicial bodies, the Disciplinary and Ethics Committees, and on FIFA’s anti-doping activities.

FIFA also published the comprehensive new FIFA Legal Handbook, which gathers all of the latest FIFA regulations, statutory documents and relevant circulars in one place electronically for the first time.

Delayed due to the pandemic, the second edition of the Football Law Annual Review was held by FIFA as an open online event that was streamed live on

FIFA developed a toolkit of new and updated integrity resources that present the best practices that member associations and confederations should use as a day-to-day reference tool to promote integrity and protect football competitions from match manipulation.

FIFPRO and FIFA signed a collaboration agreement endorsing a smartphone app that allows professional footballers to anonymously report match-fixing approaches, complementing existing confidential reporting platforms already introduced by FIFA.

Labour protection for female players and football coaches ­

In December, the FIFA Council approved groundbreaking reforms to better protect female players and football coaches. The new rules, resulting from extensive consultations with football stakeholders, establish new global minimum standards for female players, particularly in relation to guaranteed maternity leave, protection from dismissal and the right to return to work. 

FIFA also introduced specific provisions establishing minimum standards for the employment conditions of coaches, recognising the crucial role they play in the game. The new provisions bring greater clarity to the form and stability of coaches’ employment contracts.

The additions to the Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players set a minimum standard globally, with each member association free to offer higher protection.

Manual on third‑party influence and ownership

Published in September, the Manual on Third-Party Influence and Third-Party Ownership in Football Agreements aims to inform football stakeholders and the general public about how FIFA interprets and applies articles 18bis and 18ter of the Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players.

The manual addresses long-standing interest in the two provisions, the development of the football transfer system, the increasing complexity of employment- and transfer-related agreements, and the need to provide legal certainty.

2ⁿᵈ FIFA Data Protection Summit ­

This one-day virtual conference brought together more than 300 attendees, representing MAs, confederations, clubs, leagues and players, who heard from a broad selection of speakers discussing critical matters for the world of sport. The main discussion points included the management of health data, the introduction of new technologies and their impact on data protection, the use of data across borders and the protection of players’ data.

The summit provided an opportunity for FIFA to present its latest tools in the field of data protection, in particular the new FIFA Data Protection Portal, a one-stop shop for all of FIFA’s potential counterparts. 

First-ever pro bono counsel workshop

The 2019 editions of the FIFA Disciplinary Code and Code of Ethics provide for individuals with limited financial means to request legal aid and apply for pro bono counsel to assist them in their defence during proceedings before the relevant FIFA judicial bodies.

In November 2020, 21 experienced lawyers from around the world selected for this service refreshed their knowledge about the procedures before FIFA’s judicial bodies in the first-ever pro bono counsel workshop.

Education for the win

In 2020, for the first time, FIFA launched two long-term, high-level legal education initiatives, with plans for more in the near future. 

The FIFA Diploma in Football Law marks a new chapter in the long partnership between FIFA and the International Centre for Sports Studies. With five modules taking place across five different continents over 13 months, the first edition commenced its opening module at the Concacaf headquarters in Miami in February.

The vocational programme will give the 26 participants a deep insight into football structures and transfer regulations as well as disciplinary, doping and integrity matters and proceedings.

The Executive Programme on Sports Arbitration is tailored towards lawyers with an interest in sports law and/or in-house legal counsel of international and national federations, clubs, leagues and player unions. It provides an introduction to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), the fundamental aspects of CAS proceedings and its high-profile cases.

The programme is aimed at providing a hands-on approach to all aspects related to proceedings before CAS.

Launched in late 2019, FIFA’s legal portal was further enriched in 2020 to provide more in-depth information about the activities of the Legal & Compliance Division.

As well as publishing every single decision, along with its grounds, issued by FIFA’s judicial bodies, also features all football-related awards made by CAS immediately after their issue. 

This sub-section of provides a catalogue of all FIFA Legal publications, presents the organisation’s various activity areas from compliance to anti-doping, and is also a hub for webinars with distinguished speakers. is an indispensable tool for anyone working in football administration.