A lot has been said and written about the implementation of club licensing regulations in Cameroon. FECAFOOT has imposed a mandatory twelve-point guideline for football clubs of its member association to meet the requirements or be excluded from 2023/2024 competitions. The implication is that unless Cameroon establishes and successfully implements its own club licensing regulations, league winners CotonSport of Garoua would lose their place in the CAF Champions League, while Bamboutos would suffer the same fate in the CAF Confederations Cup.
In the current interval between the just concluded league season and the new season yet to commence, it is apparent that the Cameroonian football authorities are busy with the process of implementing the now mandatory club licensing regulations. While we await the production of the document for application within Cameroon, there have been quite a number of people asking what club licensing is all about; some are even sceptical about the value it would add to the fortunes of professional club football in Cameroon. Recently, FIFA and its confederations (like CAF) have been organising seminars for league and club administrators in different countries and continents. The aim is to educate them on the concept and workings of club licensing as well as to convey the benefits of the implementation of the regulations.
Since its introduction in the African continent, CAF has organized over:
● 60 Club Licensing Workshops at the National Level;
● 2 Continental Club Licensing Seminars;
● 12 Regional Club Licensing Workshops;
● 2 Seminars for the CAF Club Licensing Instructors.
What is Club Licensing Regulations
The global objectives of the Club Licensing Procedure were defined by FIFA during its Congress which was held in Munich in 2006.
The FIFA Executive Committee adopted the FIFA Club Licensing Regulations on 29 October 2007 and it came into force on 1 January 2008.
The CAF Club Licensing Regulations were approved on 19 January 2012, and came into force effective 1 March 2012.
A period of introduction and soft implementation started immediately after the CAF Club Licensing regulations came into force and the Club Licensing Procedure entered into full implementation phase for the first time during the 2017 CAF Inter-clubs Competitions Season.
The implementation of the Club Licensing Procedure must be respected by all CAF Member Associations.
The objectives of the Club Licensing Procedure are:
● Promoting and improving of the quality and the level of all football aspects in Africa;
● Ensuring that clubs have the appropriate infrastructure, knowledge and application in respect of management and organization;
● Adapting and improving the clubs sporting infrastructure;
● Improving the economic and financial capacity of the clubs, through proper corporate governance and control;
● Ensuring and guaranteeing the continuity of the international competitions of clubs during the season;
● Allowing the parallel development and comparison amongst clubs by ensuring the necessary compliance in terms of financial, sporting, legal, administrative and infrastructure criteria.
All clubs willing to participate in CAF Inter-clubs Competitions must be granted the license by the National Club Licensing Decision-making bodies prior to their engagement in the CAF Inter-clubs Competitions.
In order to receive the license, each club must fulfill all the mandatory minimum requirements set in the National Club Licensing Regulations (which must respect the minimum requirements set by CAF).
CAF Executive committee adopted on 10 December 2020 a new regulatory framework for CAF club licensing system and stadiums. The new regulations are the first major reform of CAF’s club licensing system and stadiums since being first introduced in 2012.
The new CAF regulatory framework strengthens the club licensing system for men´s and women´s football for continental and domestic competitions, defines the minimum requirements that Member Associations or affiliated leagues as Licensors must comply with in order to operate the Club Licensing System, establishes a categorization of stadium technical requirements per type of CAF competition, and sets out the sanctions to be applied for lack of proper implementation of club licensing system by the national associations.
Regarding the new edition of the CAF Men’s Club Licensing Regulations, below a summary of the changes:
1. CAF Men´s Club Licensing Regulations (edition 2022) makes it mandatory for all member associations to license their clubs aiming to participate in the CAF Interclubs Competitions, as well as at a minimum, their clubs participating in the domestic men’s top tier competition.
2. CAF has moved away from the A, B and C types of criteria. Under the CAF Men’s Club Licensing Regulations (edition 2022), two types of criteria are introduced: Continental Criteria and Domestic Criteria. Continental Criteria apply to clubs participating in CAF Interclubs Competitions. The Domestic Criteria must be defined by each Member Association for their men’s top tier domestic competition respecting the minimum criteria and requirements established in the CAF regulations. The Licensors must now include as a criterion, at a minimum in their top tier men’s national club competition, articles 26, 28, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 39, 40, 41, 42, 47, 48, 53, 54, 55, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62 and 63 from the CAF Men’s Club Licensing regulations into their National Men´s Club Licensing regulations, while adjusting the requirements in each criteria to the domestic competition regulations.
3. Improvements have been made to the Club Licensing criteria for various topics, including but not limited to, child protection and welfare, medical care of players, women’s football teams, club administrative positions and qualifications, and tighter deadlines for overdue payables.
4. Specifically on the sporting criteria in the CAF Men’s Club Licensing Regulations (edition 2022), CAF has now introduced a requirement for women’s football teams, which means that clubs intending to participate in the CAF Interclubs competitions must have at minimum one (01) women’s first team participating in a competition sanctioned by the member association. To comply with this requirement, clubs may operate the women’s team(s) itself or have a written agreement with another entity who operates the team(s).
5. The new regulations also indicate that the Club Licensing process for CAF Interclubs as well as (at a minimum), the domestic men’s top tier competition must now be completed through the CAF Club Licensing Online Platform (CLOP).
The above-mentioned regulations have now entered into force since 1 July 2022. The new CAF men´s club licensing regulations and CAF women´s club licensing regulations must be incorporated into every member association’s national club licensing regulations.
FECAFOOT’S Club Licensing Regulations
In its Circular to Members, FIFA described the CLR as:
“the basic working document for the club licensing system, through which the different
members of the football family aim to promote common principles in the world of
football such as sporting values, transparency in the finances, ownership and control of
clubs and the credibility and integrity of club competitions.”
This presupposes that there are minimum requirements which football clubs have to meet
in order to be licensed to participate in competitions and national and international levels.
In a letter signed by the Secretary General of FECAFOOT on June 21, 2023, the football governing body outlines the following basic requirements for participation in the 2023/2024 season:
● An approved programme on youth football development
● A medical follow-up of players
● Existence of a women’s team
● A recognised and affiliated medical personnel
● A qualified physiotherapist
● An official standard training pitch
● A team Press Officer
● A bank account with a category 1 financial institution
● Office space with an official address
● An official administrative secretariat
● Mandatory payment of players salaries in their bank accounts
● Mandatory affiliation of all club personnel with the National Social Insurance company
The club licensing system operates in such a way that clubs that are to participate in
competition apply for a license, which is issued upon certification that they meet the
minimum standards under the CLR. However, there is room for appeal if a club’s
application for license is refused.
Club licensing system – The benefits for Cameroon football
If the foregoing has been understood, little needs to be said about the benefits of CLR for
Cameroonian football. They are immense and obvious. These benefits are what the FIFA CLR
set out to achieve, some of which are listed as its objectives. Upon implementation in
Cameroon, it will be of benefit to clubs, players as well as fans.
For the clubs, CLR will:
– Professionalise football club management and administration of competitions
– Promote financial viability and stability
– Promote transparency in the finances, ownership and control of clubs
– Safeguard the credibility and integrity of club competitions
– Promote sporting values in accordance with the principles of fair play
For players, CLR will:
– Enhance youth development, including non-football education
– Enhance transparency in the contractual/legal relations with clubs
– Guarantee medical care
For fans, CLR will:
– Promote and secure match environments and enhance match-day experience
– Ensure attractive football competitions and brands
Club Presidents on the path towards professionalism
Elume Raymond, sports analyst, has hailed FECAFOOT’s licensing requirement which calls for clubs to have women’s teams in order to participate in national competitions.
The new regulation will come into force in the 2023/24 season and, according to him, it has placed the agenda of women’s football at the forefront.
“The club licensing process, which makes it mandatory to have a women’s team, puts the women’s game on the agenda,” Elume told kick442.
“That’s important because it hasn’t been on the agenda before. It’s making clubs sit down and notice the fact that they now have to put a structure in place and ensure that the facilities are in place.”
“CAF and FIFA are very clear about making sure that there’s consistency. I think football federations must also be honest – we can’t be starting and stopping teams, so it’s something that leagues also need to manage quite seriously.
“When they say you can’t participate in key tournaments because of a lack of women’s team, structure and professionalism, then the federations and clubs are fully aware of the seriousness.”
As part of the moves to empower women and the promotion of women’s football, FECAFOOT insists that any men’s team without a women’s team will be ineligible to participate in FECAFOOT national competitions and CAF inter-club competitions starting from the 2023-24 season.
The reality is that it is practically impossible for Cameroonian clubs to meet up with the
requirements of CLR before the deadline. It is therefore likely that concessions will have to be given if Cameroonian clubs are to participate in CAF competitions next year. However, there is no denying the fact that the implementation of the club licensing system is a necessity if Cameroonian domestic football is to become the attractive and economically viable brand that it should be.
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