Despite the Swans recent on-field success, many fans are still feeling aggrieved by FIFA's decision to block two of the team's summer transfers - those of Rafik Halliche and Darnel Situ. In response to several comments I've recived on this blog, I shall attempt to clarify why this has happened, to the best of my knowledge.
Of course, it is incredibly difficult to extrapolate official details of sensitive business matters such as transfer activity from anyone officially involved in football, so please take what follows as opinion rather than fact. It is educated opinion, but not absolute truth since there is no way to know the exact details without being directly involved.
The short answer to why the deals were not allowed is that they were not completed in time. There were no problems with international clearance per se, but needing that clearance meant more "paperwork" was necessary, and all the bits and pieces weren't put through the system before the deadline.
FIFA uses what they call the "Transfer Matching System"; it is a computer based system that has replaced the old paper-driven process of completing transfers. The system requires both teams involved in a transfer to enter identical information; if there are any differences in the information, the transfers are blocked. The details required include identification of the player and all financial details. Evidence to support these details (such as identification documents, employment contract and transfer contracts) must be uploaded to the system.
I have no doubt that Swansea would have made sure their part of the information was correct and ready in time. It seems to be the case that the details for the Halliche deal were not fully completed because Fulham were not aware of the need for international clearance. This is necessary because Swansea's transfers still need approval by a separate authority (the FAW instead of the FA). Thus Fulham might have inadvertently submitted mis-matched or incomplete details to the system, resulting in a block. If Swansea were governed by the FA, as Fulham likely assumed they were, this clearance would not be necessary.
The Situ case is more annoying, because it seems that the clubs were both on the same page and eager to complete the deal. However, three or four different agents all claimed to be representing the player; one agent's name is required for the paperwork, and needless to say the agent whose name makes the form is the one who gets paid. Therefore, it looks like the agents arguments ran to the eleventh hour and by the time the matter was resolved, the teams had missed the deadline. It almost feels as though some of the agents involved were taking the "if I'm not getting paid, no one's getting paid!" approach and managed to sabotage the deal for everyone.
Going back briefly to the subject of international clearance, a comment on my last blog post (from SuperSwans) made the excellent point that Monaco, a non-French team playing their football in the French league, don't seem to suffer from the same problems. This is because Monaco are governed by the same authority as all the other teams in the French league. Therefore, the issue is tied to the relationship between Swansea, the FAW and the FA. Back in the Championship, the FAW looked after Swansea's disciplinary matters as well as transfers. In the Premier League, all disciplinary action is handled by the FA regardless of Swansea being a Welsh club but the FAW are still involved in transfer activity.
I have to say I feel Swansea (and Cardiff, for that) would be best served if all their business was handled by the FA. After all, the other 90 clubs fall under the jurisdiction of one governing body, so it seems counter-productive to have two clubs tied to a different organisation. The Halliche situation and the David Edgar situation of last January are two examples of the negative impact of this situation. I'm hard pushed to think of any positives. There can't be any competitive advantage in belonging to a different organisation, as that wouldn't be fair. So what's the point? The FAW ought to preside over the Welsh Premier League and all it's teams, and leave Swansea and Cardiff (and Wrexham and Newport if it came to it) to switch to the FA, since they are members of FA-governed leagues. It would actually help Swansea, since it would streamline their domestic transfer activity. This alone would help Swansea more than anything the FAW could directly do.
Going back to the issue of the blocked transfers; the rumour mill is now rife with wild and wonderful names of free agents the Swans might pursue for defensive cover. Here's some of my favourites so far:
Who would you most like to see in a Swans shirt?
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