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 FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023™ owing to the specific calendar circumstances of this edition.

The consensus framework takes into consideration the existence of different playing seasons (2022/2023 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 10 July 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 20 July 2023.

This new framework strikes the all-important balance between players having sufficient rest while allowing adequate time to prepare for the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023.

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 31 December 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.

ECA Head of Women’s Football, Claire Bloomfield said

“This feels like a pivotal moment in the professionalisation of women’s football. ECA has been greatly encouraged by the level of constructive dialogue and willingness to work together throughout this process. This collaborative spirit that is synonymous with the women’s game has been crucial in finding a way forward.

“It was obviously in everyone’s best interests to establish a solution as quickly as possible, and we believe the new framework strikes the all-important balance between players having sufficient rest while allowing adequate time to prepare for the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023.”