In a significant development, the European Club Association (ECA) and FIFA have come to a crucial agreement regarding the release dates for players participating in the FIFA Women's World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023. This agreement takes into account the unique calendar circumstances of this edition and is the result of extensive consultations with stakeholders worldwide.
According to a press release issued here on Wednesday, the consensus framework acknowledges the varying playing seasons of leagues around the world, with some players concluding their club competitions prior to the tournament, while others will have just begun their season. The mandatory release date for players remains July 10, 2023. In cases where players have official club matches scheduled until that date, the club is expected to retain the player unless mutually agreed otherwise between the member association and the concerned club.
However, recognizing that several clubs will finish their domestic seasons before the start of the tournament, the newly agreed consensus has introduced a non-mandatory release timeframe of June 23-29, 2023—four weeks prior to the tournament kick-off on July 20, 2023.
This framework strikes a crucial balance by providing players with adequate rest while allowing sufficient time for preparation for the FIFA Women's World Cup 2023. The indicated timeframe serves as a guideline for clubs and participating member associations, and the exact release dates will be agreed upon between them, taking into consideration the individual circumstances of each case. FIFA and ECA fully encourage and endorse mutual agreements in this regard.
As part of the agreement, FIFA will extend the FIFA Club Protection Programme to cover the additional period from when players leave their club for national team duties until their return, regardless of the date of departure.
The establishment of this newly agreed framework for the tournament follows a series of collaborative stakeholder meetings. ECA presented a proposal to find a compromise that benefits all parties involved. The meetings included representatives from FIFA, ECA, clubs, member associations, UEFA, FIFPRO, the NWSL, as well as head coaches, specialized medical staff, and performance staff. This inclusive and constructive dialogue underscores the cooperative approach that FIFA, ECA, and stakeholders in women's football aim to foster moving forward.
This agreement highlights the strong relationship between FIFA and ECA, which was further solidified with the signing of a renewed memorandum of understanding (MoU) at the 29th ECA General Assembly in Budapest, Hungary, in March 2023. The MoU, effective until December 31, 2030, includes a commitment to collaboration on women's football matters, emphasizing the joint efforts of FIFA and ECA in ensuring long-term stability for both the national-team and club game.