The messy transfer dispute between Epac and Big Bullets over defender Pilirani Zonda offers an important case study for Fifa player status regulations.
Fifa records indicate that Zonda, who FAM disciplinary committee has since declared as an amateur and free agent, was born on November 24 in 1994 meaning that he is 20.
According to Fifa regulations, Zonda cannot be sold on a transfer fee, but suitors such as Bullets have to pay training compensation. This is the case for players yet to reach 23 years.
The regulations that are accessible on www.fifa.com give pre-conditions for training compensation which include: (i) when a player signs his first contract as a professional and (ii) each time a professional is transferred until the end of the season of his 23rd birthday.
The obligation to pay training compensation arises whether the transfer takes place during or at the end of the player’s contract.
This means that Bullets still have to pay Epac the compensation.
For those who qualify for the status of professional players, there are also some regulations worth paying attention to. Such players are subjected to solidarity mechanism.
“If a professional is transferred before the expiry of his contract, any club that has contributed to his education and training shall receive a proportion of the compensation paid to his former club (solidarity contribution). The provisions concerning solidarity contributions are set out in Annexe 5 of these regulations,” reads the regulations.
The case is different when a player is under 18. That is what compromises careers for most Malawian age-cheating players when they sign for foreign clubs.
Such players cannot sign professional contracts until they reach 18.
Malawi has had questionable cases such as that of Dan Chitsulo, Limbikani Mzava, Luka Milanzi who had to wait for their 18th birthdays before penning professional deals for Cologne, Bloemfontein Celtic and TP Mazembe, respectively.
Such players could not be subjected to international transfers unless the interested club put them under the custody of guardians or, like was the case with Lionel Messi, parents must relocate to the new country with their under-aged player-child. The relocation must not be for footballing reasons.