ECA is concerned about the volume of alerts from our Member Clubs on the current widespread practice of National Associations (NAs) calling up players for international duty for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup outside of the mandatory release periods as established in the FIFA International Match Calendar (IMC).

Following extensive consultation within ECA, European clubs will seek to strictly adhere to the mandatory release period and request that the rules governing the release of players to their national teams to be respected ahead of the tournament.

The FIFA Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players clearly states that the mandatory release period for the final competition of a tournament commences on the “Monday morning of the week preceding the week when the relevant final competition starts”.

Given that the tournament kicks off on 20 July, the mandatory release period for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup therefore commences on 10 July.

With players being called ahead of this date, in some instances as early as May, there will be insufficient time for adequate rest before the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup begins and upon its conclusion as clubs prepare for the 2023/24 season.

This lack of rest which results from early call-ups evidently contravenes the protection of players’ health and wellbeing which ECA believes shall always be a priority.

ECA reiterates its full support for the importance of international duty and of national team competitions and especially the FIFA Women’s World Cup, but also insists that all stakeholders respect the principles upon which this duty rests.

In light of the reinforced relationship between FIFA and ECA following the signing of the recent Memorandum of Understanding until 2030, ECA will seek to collaborate with FIFA in working with the NAs on not requiring the presence of a player before the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup mandatory release period starts.

ECA Head of Women’s Football, Claire Bloomfield said:

This is not a matter of financial compensation or the absence of adequate protection and insurance, but a serious concern for player welfare.

The issue of early call-ups is a hangover from the game in its amateur form and is detrimental to the future success and growth of women’s football. They also generate a great deal of unneccessary tension in the relationship between clubs and their players.

We were given a very clear mandate by our Member Clubs which includes engaging in constructive and direct communication with our key stakeholders and partners, and this will be our focus in the coming days.