ZURICH: FIFA’s controversial regulations concerning restrictions on the transfers of minors – defined as under 18 – is to be tested in court in Zurich.

A complaint has been registered at the Zurich Commercial Court, according to a Reuters report, on behalf of a 17-year-old African player and his parents.

A spokesman for Zurich law firm Nater Dallafior Rechtsanwaelte, which has brought the case, said in a statement that the player, who had represented his country at youth level, was unable to move to a club in the European Union because of the rules.

It added: “Thereby, he and his family miss the probably unique chance of a professional and social advancement.

“FIFA implemented these regulations on the pretext that young football players such as the claimant must be protected.

“In reality, however, these regulations lead to a discrimination of football players from third countries outside the European Union.”

This, it said, made them unlawful and also breached EU stipulations on the free movement of labour.

FIFA regulations prohibit the international transfers of players under the age of 18 unless their parents have emigrated for reasons not connected to football or both the player and club are based within 50km of a national border.

The only other exception is for transfers within either the EU or European Economic Area (EEA), where the minimum age is 16. In those cases, clubs must still ensure that the player continues his education and studies for an alternative career, as well as making sure he has a high living standard.

There have been complaints in the past that the rule has been used excessively. Transfer bans, a standard punishment, have been imposed for breaches in recent by Barcelona, Real and Atletico Madrid.

FIFA, in cooperation with European federation UEFA and the European Commission, tightened the regulations to try to prohibit the trafficking of minors by unscrupulous agents who then abandoned the players in Europe if they failed to made the grade.