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| 3 minutes read

The future: A closer look at FIFA's new National Dispute Framework

FIFA’s Council have marked the turn of the year with a milestone decision to update the regulatory framework for National Dispute Resolution Chambers (NDRCs), various national bodies which exist around the world for the purpose of resolving football-related disputes. According to FIFA, the regulatory framework, which has remained undisturbed for the best part of two decades, will be ‘modernised’ to usher in a greater sense of ‘legal certainty’, particularly where questions over jurisdiction arise. 

NDRC’s: A Brief Overview

Arbitration has long been recognised as the principal mechanism for dealing with disputes in the footballing world, but rather than relying on FIFA’s Dispute Resolution Chamber to adjudicate all disputes, National Football Association’s (FAs) have sought to implement their own machinery for handling football disputes, in the form of NDRCs. At a base level, NDRCs serve as an independent arbitration tribunal, acting at a national level. These chambers therefore allow for an alternative forum of redress to the standard civil court or going directly to FIFA.

These NDRCs have been permitted, and even encouraged, for many years, including in the FIFA Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players, but only provided they meet certain minimum procedural principles. These procedural principals were defined by FIFA, with the most recent update being provided in the 2023 edition of the FIFA Commentary on the FIFA Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players

However, legal uncertainty has plagued this existing framework, which did not actually define what a recognised NDRC is, leading to disputes about the jurisdiction of NDRCs to hear disputes, disputes which could only be resolved by FIFA’s Dispute Resolution Chamber on a case-by-case basis. 

The New Regulatory Framework: Transition into Force 

The new regime consists of:

  1. The National Dispute Resolution Chamber Recognition Principles, which set out the specific criteria which all NDRC’s must meet in order to be recognised by FIFA, including:
    1. Having jurisdiction to hear disputes relating primarily to the contractual relationship between employees (i.e. players or coaches) and employers (i.e. clubs).
    2. Having jurisdiction to hear disputes with a national dimension, leaving disputes with an international dimension to FIFA (unless both parties agree and it would not be in breach of any exclusive jurisdiction clause).
    3. Being constituted in way that guarantees independence and impartiality, including ensuring appropriate representatives are appointed by both employees (i.e. players and coaches, e.g. via any national players’ association) and employers (i.e. clubs, via any league or club organisation).
    4. Submit an application to FIFA demonstrating that it meets these criteria.
  2. An Annexe of “Standard Regulations” which can be used by NDRCs as a template for their procedural rules, composition and functions.;
  3. A set of Explanatory Notes providing additional guidance on the regime to member associations and stakeholders.
  4. Clarification over the composition of an NDRC and the appointment process for its members; and
  5. Permissible deviations from the standardised rules established by FIFA. 

As the governing body, FIFA states that this regulatory shift will allow for the proliferation of NDRCs, with the ultimate target for all football associations around the globe to have their own, established NDRC. The proliferation of NDRCs globally, would allow for a stable two-tier legal system specific to football, with national level disputes being handled by recognised NDRC’s and the Court of Arbitration for Sport handling matters with an international jurisdiction. 

FIFA is planning a phased entry into force for the newly combined NDRC Recognition Principles and NDRC Standard Regulations is necessary. 

A steady transition is due to take place, with the 1 February 2024 marking the first step. From this date, Articles 1 to 3 and 6 to 10 of the National Dispute Resolution Recognition Principles will come into force. This will allow member FAs to actually initiate the recognition process for an NDRC, in accordance with the new principles 

With the final changes then coming into effect from 1 January 2025, the relevant authorities have ample breathing space to come to terms with the new legal paradigm. 


The new NDRC Regulations set the stage for a clear framework of minimum standards NDRC’s must comply with to be recognised by FIFA. In this context, it is crucial that FAs give thought to whether they want to develop their own NDRCs, as the platform from which to do so has just been given a tremendous boost. 

The pathway to necessary legal certainty appears to have become more streamlined, enhancing the possibility of a paradigmatic shift. Ultimately, this shift would cultivate a legal environment in which FIFA is able to permanently recognise NDRCs. Whether that will be the case in the years to come, only time will tell. However, this is clearly a positive first step in that journey.


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