Following extensive consultation with stakeholders around the world, ECA and FIFA have reached a key agreement on the release dates for players participating in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup – Australia & New Zealand owing to the specific calendar circumstances of this edition.
The consensus framework takes into consideration the existence of different playing seasons (2022/23 and 2023) for leagues around the world, with some players ending their club competition ahead of the tournament while others will have just started their season.
The mandatory release date for players remains on July 10, 2023, and where a player has official club matches up to that date, the club is expected to retain the player unless otherwise mutually agreed between the member association and club concerned.
However, acknowledging that a number of clubs will conclude their domestic season before the start of the tournament, the new consensus agreement has established a non-mandatory release timeframe of 23-29 June 2023 – four weeks ahead of the tournament kick-off on July 20, 2023.
This new framework strikes the all-important balance between players having sufficient rest while allowing adequate time to prepare for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
The new indicative timeframe should act as a guideline for clubs and participating member associations, with the exact dates of release to be agreed between them based on the individual circumstances of each case. Such efforts at mutual agreement are fully encouraged and endorsed by FIFA and ECA.
As part of the agreement reached, FIFA will ensure that the FIFA Club Protection Programme is extended to cover this additional period from the moment that players leave their club for their duties with their national team until their return, regardless of the date of departure.
The newly agreed framework for the tournament was established following a series of joint stakeholder meetings, in which ECA presented a proposal to reach a compromise for the benefit of all interested parties. Alongside FIFA and ECA representatives, the meetings included delegations from clubs, member associations, UEFA, FIFPRO and the NWSL, as well as a number of head coaches and specialised medical and performance staff.
Built on a collaborative spirit through open and constructive dialogue, the consultation process and subsequent framework sends a clear message as to how FIFA and ECA, as well as stakeholders across the women’s game, will seek to cooperate going forward.
The agreement is testament to the strong relationship between FIFA and ECA following the signing of a renewed memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the two organisations at the 29th ECA General Assembly in Budapest, Hungary, in March 2023. The MoU, in effect until December 31, 2030, included a commitment to working together on women’s football matters and reinforces the commitment of FIFA and ECA in bringing long-term stability to both the national-team and club game.