A specialised fund for legal aid in football known as the FIFA-CAS Football Legal Aid Fund (FLAF) has been established by FIFA and the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). The fund has been created per the new agreement signed between FIFA and the International Council for Arbitration for Sport (ICAS) for 2023-2026. The same was done with the aim of providing support to football stakeholders who seek to file appeals before the CAS. The operation began on February 1, 2023, and as per the criteria of the scheme, the fund will be available to any natural persons, including agents with a FIFA licence who do not have sufficient monetary means to seek relief or legal remedies from the CAS. Persons availing of the services need not pay the administrative and procedural costs. The funds are derived from the annual contributions of FIFA.
Previously, in 2016, FIFA introduced the Legal Aid Fund program to provide financial assistance to players, coaches, and other football officials who needed help covering legal costs related to disputes with their clubs or national football associations. The Legal Aid Fund is administered by FIFA’s Players’ Status Department, which reviews applications and determines whether the applicant meets the eligibility criteria for assistance. To be eligible, applicants must be affiliated with a FIFA-recognized club or national football association and must be involved in a legal dispute related to their employment or participation in football.
The fund can be used to cover legal costs associated with various disputes, including those related to breach of contract, termination of employment, and transfer disputes. However, the fund cannot be used to cover costs associated with criminal proceedings, tax disputes, or cases that do not involve football-related matters. A detailed set of guidelines laying down the application procedure required to be followed when requesting legal aid, etc., have been issued by the International Council of Arbitration for Sport (ICAS) as per provisions of the Code for Sports–related Arbitration.