FIFA president Gianni Infantino has proposed talks with leagues across the globe about potentially implementing a salary cap and limits on transfer fees as the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic continues.
The leader of soccer’s world-governing body released a lengthy video statement Saturday, in which he also asked league associations to work together to find the best solutions for the club and international calendar moving forward.
Last week he said FIFA wanted a ‘common sense’ approach to players who are supporting the Black Lives Matter movement and that players showing messages of support should be ‘applauded and not punished’ despite FIFA’s previously strict rules around players sharing political, religious or personal messages during games.
FIFA are working on a financial package which they hope to discuss with members and finalize in their next council meeting later this month but recent talks with associations across the globe have suggested a salary cap or transfer fees limit could work.
Here is what the FIFA chief had to say specifically when it comes to soccer adapting to the changing financial environment.
“On the financial and governance aspects, I also heard some interesting proposals on a wide range of topics,” Infantino said. “From salary caps to transfer-fee caps or other taxation mechanisms, to the possible obligation for governing bodies, competition organisers and clubs to build reserves or to contribute to a reserve fund which can be of assistance in hours of need such as now.
“I personally advocate for clearer and stricter financial regulations, imposing full transparency and good governance principles, and not only limiting this to the transfer system, but to the entire football ecosystem. FIFA is doing already a lot of work on this area, even if we face some strong vested interests who fight against our plea for a better global governance in our sport.
“Dear friends, we will need your full support and commitment to move to the next level of good governance in football globally. I think that these and other measures, projects and ideas should be discussed at all levels. I know that this is something that will spark intense debate, but debate is healthy, and we should speak about it all together – as we stand together during this difficult period.”
Quite how a salary cap or a limit on transfer fees would work remain to be seen but given the huge financial burden places on clubs during the coronavirus pandemic, it is a very plausible solution to help stop clubs from going out of business.
With governing bodies such as UEFA placing strict financial fair play rules on clubs to stop them from spending beyond their means, FIFA doing something similar would be possible.
Would clubs, leagues and associations sign up for these new rules? In the short-term, probably. Long-term, it would be tough. Nobody knows how long sports, and society, will be impacted by the coronavirus pandemic and even if a vaccine is found and fans can return to stadiums and things go back to relative normality, the financial implications of the past four to five months is likely to be felt for years to come.
The salary cap system will not work for every league or even every region but as we’ve seen in Major League Soccer, it can bring stability and certain leagues need that across the globe.