FIFA winning battle against under-age transfers

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BERNE, Sept 29 (Reuters) - FIFA believes it is winning the battle against the unauthorised transfer of adolescent players thanks to a new electronic registration system.

African and South American countries have often complained about minors being poached by clubs from other regions.

But football's world governing body says this will be greatly reduced by the Transfer Matching System (TMS) which comes into full effect for all international transfers on Friday.

The TMS, in which international transfers will be registered electronically instead of on paper, is designed to give the game's authorities full control over the movement of players, something FIFA says has been open to all kinds of abuse.

To complete a transfer, the buying and selling clubs must enter a number of details into the Internet-based system including the transfer fee, player's salary, agent or lawyer involved and length of contract.

The money must be transferred from and to a bank account.

In the case of players aged under 18, the movements of both professional and amateur players will be registered.

"For a minor to be transferred, six to 12 documents have to be uploaded to prove a particular case, even for an amateur international transfer," said TMS general manager Mark Goddard.

"The disclosure of an employment contract is required and it must be stated whether the player's parents are moving for football reasons or not."

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"The level of disclosure required to submit is so comprehensive, it's going to be very clear again whether the requirements are being met or not."

In the past, South American clubs have 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.

Goddard said TMS had practically ended the transfers of players under-18 within South America.

FIFA began phasing in the TMS system one year ago and legal director Marco Villiger said that since then there had been 921 requests for the international transfer of minors of which 747 were accepted and 174 turned down.

"This is a big step which proves the efficiency of the TMS system," he said.

In the case of senior players, FIFA says the new system will put an end to disputes between clubs, rows over whether moves have been completed by transfer window deadlines and prevent third parties from owning players.

"We believe that the system is revolutionary for FIFA and for professional football," said Villiger. "With the new system, FIFA has much more control over the transfers, we can enforce our regulations."

Villiger said if the details entered separately by the two respective clubs involved in a transfer did not match, then FIFA would automatically be alerted.

Third parties would not be able to sell players because only clubs would have access to the system, he added.

Clubs would also have to designate the bank accounts in which money would be deposited and Villiger said all details would be checked.

"It is doubly important we have a strict compliance system," he said. "Too have an electronic system is nice but someone has to check that the information entered into the system is correct and we have a team working on this."

"This is definitely something which will keep us busy in the future."