BAFA have released the following statement regarding their suspension of a number of foreign players. They also confirm that this could lead to potential bans as well as fines for clubs involved.
Here’s the full statement:
Important announcement from BAFA to all National Leagues clubs regarding foreign nationals
Thursday, April 11, 2019
BAFA has suspended a number of members due to registration irregularities.
As a result of investigation work being undertaken into another matter, BAFA has uncovered issues relating to membership eligibility for National Leagues football. This has resulted in the suspension of a number of players due to registration irregularities.
Competition Rule 5.25 makes it clear that to be eligible for BAFA National Leagues membership individuals must be ordinarily resident in the UK.
This rule is lifted directly from our insurance documentation and means that anyone in the UK on a visitor visa or foreign nationals who have not been in the country for six months are not eligible for BAFA National Leagues membership. The only exception to this is for military personnel on duty in the UK or students on a Tier 4 visa.
What does this mean for clubs and members?
National Leagues clubs and their members should have been ensuring that they comply with this important condition of our insurance.
Consequently, BAFA have suspended the membership of any foreign nationals listed on the registration system who have not yet shown evidence to support these requirements, pending investigation. During this time these members will not appear on BAFA National Leagues photo rosters and will not be eligible to participate in games or tournaments.
These registrations will only be restored to the system once proof of residency (via a copy of their visa or right to residency documentation, or other such official documentation proving residency in the case of persons from the European Economic Area) is given to BAFA. Should proof of residency not be acceptable or available, BAFA will cancel the memberships concerned.
Clubs who are found to have breached this competition rule will be fined £100 (escalating as for all fixed penalties if not paid within 14 days).
Why are we doing this?
We are obliged to meet the requirements of our insurers. But most importantly, we have a duty to ensure the wellbeing of our members. Making sure everyone is appropriately insured is a vital part of this.
We are sorry for any inconvenience caused to members who can legitimately claim BAFA National Leagues membership – their membership will be restored promptly on production of the appropriate evidence.
What happens now?
Individual clubs affected by this who have members suspended are being contacted directly by Operations Director Steve Rains.
BAFA’s priority in the first instance is clubs involved in fixtures this weekend.
In order to make sure this issue is dealt with swiftly, we’ve set up an incident team to respond to concerns, check supporting evidence of residency and restore membership as quickly as possible.
We have also extended the deadline for running rosters for competitions this weekend until 10am on Sunday 14 April, to make sure there is maximum time to restore any suspended members to active status pending submission of evidence that they are normally resident in the UK.
Going forward, changes will be made to the registration system to make sure it fully supports the requirements of our insurers and competition rules, and the relevant competition rule will be reviewed to more clearly spell out the meaning of normal residency in the UK and detail the required evidence.
Are there insurance implications for my team?
We are aware of concerns about the potential affect on insurance cover for members in games where for some reason an uninsured member manages to participate – our insurers have assured us that this only negates the coverage of the offending member and not any of the legitimately insured members.
Please note, these restrictions do not currently apply to university football under BUCS, where separate restrictions and oversight for student visas are already in place.
Contact [email protected] if you have any queries relating to this announcement or the status of any of your club members.
The BAFA Board