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Guest Post – RE: Guest Players

By David Cook

David Cook

David Cook

“Any player who is not a New Zealand citizen or who does not hold a permanent resident permit, and requires an ITC (International Transfer Certificate)  to play in New Zealand, is to be regarded as a “Guest Player.”
– NZF Regulation 5. 13.1

As most people know, a squad may have a maximum of three Guest Players on the team card. In Fury’s case it had two Guest Players on the team card in the game Papakura protested several weeks ago. Note, Papakura protested just one of two playoff games in which they were well beaten over the two games. They also named players in their protest who were not even on the team card, not in the squad for the game in question. The other players subject to the protest did not require an ITC to play in NZ because they have never played FIFA affiliated football and therefore as per the wording of the Guest Player regulation were not Guest players. Fury has followed the Regulation both to the letter and in the spirit the Regulation was/is intended.

That’s it. Very simple, and so the Fury, it’s situation wrapped up, are preparing for next season in the NRFL. Fury has been told to assume it will play NRFL football next season when being asked if it will field an NRFL reserve team and we were invited to the NRFL review/preview meeting recently on a Friday evening at Mt Smart which we duly attended.

Ironically, Papakura did illegally and blatantly field a Fury registered player in a few games but were only caught out once by an opposition team earlier in the season. Fury did not find out at the time.

Next and separately, notwithstanding Fury are rightfully in the clear, there is a case for scrapping clause 13 of Regulation 5, the Guest Player Regulation.

Guest Player Reg no longer appropriate

The Guest Player regulation, today, cannot be administered fairly across the board, cannot be policed and is no longer relevant. No amount of word tweaking will be of any value. I am sure football people will agree that any regulation that cannot be administered fairly for players and clubs and/or cannot be policed by simple means should be scrapped. Especially a Reg that is no longer relevant anyway. In this instance the Guest Player regulation is not a FIFA regulation. It was invented in NZ for NZ conditions as they were three decades ago.

Doubtful if it was ever an appropriate regulation for NZ it certainly is not now with top level professionals unable to be attracted to play domestic NZ football remembering not to get mixed up with A League football which of course, is not an NZ competition.

It cannot be detected who is a player from overseas, who should or should not be a guest player especially if they have British/Kiwi sounding names. We had a Uruguyan guy who was barely good enough to play in our reserve team, could not speak a word of English and his name as per his passport was Neil Young!

The Guest Player Reg was introduced in NZ in 1983 to control the flow of top professionals who were being sought and brought to NZ to play in the National League of the day. Players of a much higher standard of say Paul Ifill for example. Paul Mariner, Ipswich and England international. John Fashanu and later Justin Fashanu. Sir Trevor Brooking. Mike Channon, Brynn Gunn, Peter Mendham, Ricky Hill  and many more followed in the footsteps of Steve Sumner, Steve Woodin, Bobby Almond etc who played at the 1982 World Cup for NZ.

Often such players ‘guested’ for some weeks only, hence, the term ‘Guest Player’ and not ‘import’ nor ‘overseas player’ etc. Sir Trevor Brooking and Mike Channon for example were sent on dinner speaking tours so that the NZ club could recoup some of the cost involved in bringing such players here. They were of the standard of what would be todays English Premier League, as were Mariner, Gunn, Mendham etc. The Guest Player regulation was intended to even the “the playing field ” between the ‘ have ‘ clubs and the ‘have not’ clubs. Protecting local players was a secondary consideration.

I was involved back in those days and know the situation well.

No longer do such players come to play in NZ football simply because domestic NZ clubs can nowhere near afford the kind of wages the likes of Paul Ifill command let alone current players from, for example, the English Premier League. That is one reason for scrapping the Guest Player regulation, there are many more to follow.

Non Affiliated Football

In the football World there is FIFA football and as people know, lots of  “other football”, being unaffiliated football, some amateur, some social, unaffiliated tournaments and so on. When a player moves from unaffiliated football to affiliated football he/she can do so freely providing he/she is registered to play in affiliated football. ITCs only apply to FIFA affiliated football, not between FIFA affiliated football and unaffiliated football.

FIFA does not recognise unaffiliated football

An example of unaffiliated football in NZ is the Waikato Sunday Soccer League and it maybe that the pretty massive Auckland Sunday football is the same. Such football also exists in other countries on an even bigger scale. A player can play both forms of ‘competition’ on the same day if he/she wishes. One thing is for certain, the players playing such unaffiliated football are not of the standard that the Guest Player reg was introduced to control. Sir Trevor Brooking did not come to NZ from low level unaffiliated football. The situation today is far removed from the 1980s.

The top professional player is not sought and brought to play in NZ football competition nor do such players wish to come here anyway these days. As noted before, they earn far too much money at home. Today, we have some players of a far lower standard brought here but largely, a great many tread a new path ie tourists and working holiday travellers on their OE who come here of their own accord. The latter are not ‘sought and brought’.

Visitors and Travellers

The Working Holiday Visa is a reasonably new pathway for persons from overseas.  A limited number of such travellers between the ages of 18 and 31 can come to NZ each year. They do not primarily come here to play football. However, due to football being a truly World game the traveller will usually be from a football mad country. Therefore, once they find a place in NZ to go to for work they often seek to play football once settled. That is when they land on the doorstep of local clubs. Certain regions are more popular than others for these travellers due to seasonal work opportunities eg Bay of Plenty re kiwifruit and allied industries, Wairarapa re vineyards. The vast majority are at best lower grade players. After all, if they were good enough players to play at a high level in their home country they would be playing FIFA affiliated professional football  at home  and not coming here with any intention of playing football as their main objective.

So these players arrive and want a game of football, landing on the doorsteps of clubs only too willing to kit them up. When they arrive from overseas and are asked about their football background only a small percentage have played affiliated football. Often they have not even played for a club before. The fact that a few of them can be put in to a team situation and do quite well is due to the skill of the coach and the fact that they are passionate football people and have played 24/7 all of their young lives therefore possessing good “feet”. Getting these individuals to play in a structured team situation is an art in itself though.

One of the players that played for Fury and had never played for a club before let alone affiliated football (just a friend’s team) was one of those kind of guys. We set up a fun contest one day where the players had to “score” in to an empty goal from the half way line (wind was blowing across the pitch ) and had to follow up with hitting the cross bar from the 18 yard line. He did it first time! No problem one straight after the other.Then did it again. No fluke. Try it. The lad wasn’t easy to fit in to team structured football though.

In some countries football is pretty much FIFA affiliated from top to bottom. As mentioned, this is not so in many other countries where affiliated football commences at the fully professional level. Therefore, it is very probable that a lower level English player will require an ITC and yet a South American player of the same standard does not require an ITC having very likely never played FIFA affiliated football. However, neither are of a standard the Guest Player reg was/is intended to control. These guys are good for NZ football, passionate football people in a rugby mad country, they help top up team numbers, sometimes coach juniors and NZF receives fees for them playing here.

Clubs Knowledge of Regulations / Guest Player Reg cannot be policed fairly

Some clubs know the regs and many do not. It can mean that the club following the regs is disadvantaged when playing a team from a club which simply signs up such players as new players and plays any number of them regardless of whether they should have been subject to an ITC or not. There was a case a couple of years ago whereupon a club played several players from the UK who they signed on as new players ie not transferred in. They had more than the three ‘guest players’ on the team card every game. They won the league and nobody could prove anything about the ‘illegal’ players they used. Most of those players moved on the next year.

The Guest Player Reg cannot be administered fairly for all clubs because
NZF have no way of policing it and indeed, would be wasting resources given that such players do not fit the profile of a player which the Guest Player reg was originally intended. Clause 13 of Reg 5 it is a complete waste of space.

Clubs Unable To Check Player Status

When a guy from overseas turns up at a club and upon being questioned about his football background announces that he has never played affiliated football, clubs have not had a mechanism of checking their honesty. Waibop for example have required a club name (and $168.00) to seek an ITC. If there is not an affiliated club name then no check has been able to be carried out. Therefore, clubs have not been able to check on a player’s background or at least, never been advised that they can. Clubs’ cannot/should not be penalised in such situation.

Even so, should clubs have to pay to check out a guy barely good enough for their third team? Should NZF decide that it is able and will now check out such players simply on the players’ passport names and dates of birth then beware. These guys are travellers/backpackers and have as many as six countries or more stamped in their passports where they have spent time. Go figure.

The overriding factor is that if they have not played affiliated football and are in NZ they generally will not be of the standard of a Guest Player as Reg 5. 13 was intended to control and should not be treated as such. They would not be in NZ if they are good enough to play at high level of football back home. Clubs should be able to register them and move on, gaining an ITC where necessary and signed on as new players where ITCs are not required and neither class of player treated as a guest player.

We have asked NZF if they have asked FIFA’s Players Status Committee about the issue we have in NZ of players arriving here saying (and I believe the ones I have come to know well) they have never played FIFA affiliated football and do not require an ITC. It is inconceivable that every player will need to be checked out in every country he has visited and who will bear the cost of such administration? The clubs?!

Say three guys who turn up in a small country town which has a club playing in the lowest league in the region to pick kiwifruit for a month. They have already spent time in 5 other countries. Do you think the local club know to seek an ITC? Do you think they are going to pay $168.00 to obtain an ITC or to try and find out if one is needed especially when the guys are only there for say four weeks? They will and do sign them on as new players, then they may transfer to a NRFL Premier League club later in their travels!

ITCs cannot be scrapped nor should they of course plus they are a FIFA requirement but the utterly useless Guest Player reg can be.


NZF in communication  with FIFA, need to provide the paying stakeholder clubs with pathways which protect them from penalties. Such pathways should clearly operate from here forward not retrospective. This is definitely not a criticism of NZF. It is up to all us football folk to assist NZF with feedback from the ‘coal face’. As well, in some instances they are dealing with regulations put in place in a previous era, when they were not in office and which are not relevant today. They need help in that respect.


Fury celebrate!

Fury celebrate!

[David Cook is the Chairman of AFC Fury]

Categories: NZ Northern Men's Division 2 Other Football Topics

Tagged as:

Enzo Giordani

A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.

22 replies

  1. Mr Cook. Are you prepared to name the alleged player that Papakura “illegally and blatantly field a Fury registered player in a few games?” And at what level? Only one I’m aware off was a reserve player from an Ak based team. And we lost the points which is fair enough. From the quality of player I witnessed in the play-offs playing for Fury, I’d be very surprised if some of them didn’t play FIFA affiliated football, at some point, in their home countries. That’s hard to prove though, so you’ve got that covered very well.

    1. You must know the player and it is irrelevant what level he played at, it displays the culture at that club.

      You will know he is Fijian player.

      Yes we managed to get some good stuff out of a few players that have never played affiliated football. That was a skill.

      If you read my post carefully again you will see that explained.

      FIFA affiliated football is not the only marker of a player that possesses skills.

      We have some here in NZ that are pretty good players but don’t play affiliated football for reasons of their own eg cannot get off work Saturdays.

      1. Papakura played him under a false name. That can be seen as a club culture not just the coach on the day.

        The guy played a few games under a false name.


        1. Given that is the culture at said club one wonders if said player played in any AFF Conference games and it’s no use claiming ” he did not ” because the suspicion has been laid by the fact he was played under a false name and was a decent player.

          Waitemata should rightfully be upset .

          1. Ok. What was his false name? I have an idea who you are talking about and you are making a very bold accusation, and say it is ‘culture at said club’. Really? Can you back up this accusation? I’ve never seen you at the club, yet you claim to know the culture?? Treading a very fine line sir, and bordering on defamation. Having been involved with said club for a number of seasons I feel we have the right to know. I admire Mr Cook and his endeavour down in the Tauranga region, after he bought Mt Maunganui to it’s knees… I suppose he needed to rebuild afresh. Of, course AFC Fury, are squeaky clean and have no reason to be worried….hahahaha.

          2. Mt Maunganui was fine until people came along and b*ggered it up.

            It was still in business as usual during my time and when it supposedly went bust under the new regime it in fact had net assets of 500k built up from my time.

            It was an unusual situation inspired by a few vindictive people followed blindly by others who did not really understand the Club.

            The same thing cannot happen to Fury.

            The constitution with Fury protects it from block voting by those with agendas as happened at the Mount.

            All I can say about Papakura is that it has a rich history. It has though taken aim at Fury on the back of incorrect information and prompted by certain persons who spend their time trying to stop other clubs from progressing instead of getting on with progressing football with their own club.

            If one cannot lose admirably then one should not be involved with the beautiful game.

            Regarding culture what I am saying is that when a club fields a player “illegally” a number of times and gets caught out just once it taints whatever club it is. It leaves that club wide open to thoughts that such situation is not isolated.

  2. Cookie lays down a few valid reasons for scrapping the guest player regulation. Great to see him getting involved and bring the debate/speculation into the public frame. With the whole thing being clouded by not being specifically quantified as to what a guest player truly is, one would wonder why have a regulation that cannot be enforced.

    A good lawyer can find holes in many pieces of older legislation, and while I don’t think Dave Cook is a lawyer, I know he has been around the traps long enough, and is clued up to know if things went down that path, loopholes will be found and eventually there would be no case to answer.

    I’m interested to see how this all pans out. Through the old “grapevine” I’d heard that NZF had been recently been audited by FIFA regarding ITC’s and been fined around $50k for irregularities. Now this is just hearsay, so I’m speculating that quite possibly NZF would be keen to recoup this sort of fine, via it’s Federations (AFF and WaiBOP) so this then brings into question the Federico Marquez issue at Ngaruwahia as well as the Fury protest that was lodged by Papakura.

    If you threw Len Brown and Rob Ford into the situation this would have the makings of a comedy movie.

    I’m watching from the cheap seats with an icecream cone and a box of popcorn. can we roll the trailers and get onto the feature please:-p

  3. Love the debate, don’t stop discussing the issues, but I do need to be a bit of a boring old fart here and ask for a bit of caution around a couple of things. I beg you to try not to defame each other. I have never been the subject of a defamation suit but I bet it’s a real drag. My understanding of the law is that when someone is defamed online, both the commenter and the owner of the site are liable. This makes me a we bit nervous about the way the above conversation appears to be heading. Pull it back a bit if you can. Also, I would like to think we can make our points without getting personal. Nobody really wants to read a slanging match. Stick to the issues. Ta.

    I will leave the above discussion as it is for now but if things get out of hand I will have to start editing comments.

    1. Totally agree.

      Stick to the theme rather than react to the odd thing that is sensitive to oneself.

      The article overall has I believe valid points that can help NZF and football in NZ.

      The reason I am involved with football is purely to try and make a difference for the better.

      Fury is secondary. Fury just happens to be the flag being flown .

      1. The general theme I agree with and believe the regulation is dated and should either be amended or removed.

        But I’m not going to stand idly by and allow someone to drag the club’s name through the mud unless he is willing to name the player involved. All players at the club received clearances, local and ICT, before playing the 2013 season…I know because I was the manager and sought those clearances.

        Enzo, I was simply responding to a claim, 3rd paragraph “Ironically, Papakura did illegally and blatantly field a Fury registered player in a few games but were only caught out once by an opposition team earlier in the season. Fury did not find out at the time.” I thought this was out of place and was requesting proof.
        Cheap shots & accusations whilst trying to make a point I don’t think is right. If Mr Cook has proof, front up with it, if he won’t he probably doesn’t have any and should withdraw this comment and apologise to the club involved.

        Defamation (Act of injuring another’s reputation by any slanderous communication, written or oral; the wrong of maliciously injuring the good name of another.)

        1. Papakura were fined and lost points on one of the games he got caught out playing.

          Therefore your club know all about it.

          It is a fact and not defamation .

          Of course I have the name but there is no need to bring the player in to it when it was the club that asked him to play.

          I believe it was South Auckland Rangers that protested.

          1. He was not truthful to the club when he registered, therefore he mislead the club. He played for a lower level team and not the Conference 1st team/reserves. It is hard for clubs when players ask to play for them and they aren’t truthful. When it was discovered he was stood down, was issued the fine and won’t play for another club until that fine is payed. It doesn’t stop him being untruthful in the future tho and only he can sort that out. So, not a club culture problem, a player not wanting to be truthful. Unfortunately we aren’t and won’t be the only club this happens to. Waitemata have nothing to be upset about because he didn’t play in any 1st team games….fact!

          2. Whether it occurs in the 10th team or first team it is still a club problem.

            He can still play because he is registered with Fury.

            We know him well. He’s ok and a handy player good enough for first team .

            He’s not the type though that would have paid a fine.

            Nevermind we move on.

            Hopefully there is 12 team Premier NRFL division in 2014 which allows Manukau to stay up and Papakura to join Fury in Div 2 there being two teams needed to make up the numbers with no team relegated this summer if it goes ahead for 2014.

            It will happen and should happen in 2014 not 2015 as mooted otherwise 2014 will be a somewhat farcical season with no relegation .

          3. I doubt the mooted 12 team premier div will be sorted for the 2014 season, but hopefully for the 2015 season. I think we both agree the issue needs to be sorted sooner than later so both Fury & Kura can get on with sorting out their respective teams for next season.

        2. BC, it wasn’t that part of your comment I was concerned about, more the part where you said “he brought Mt Maunganui to it’s knees”. Just to clarify. I’m not taking sides here, just making sure neither of you get yourselves or me into trouble! 🙂

    1. I see only good reasons to start the 12 team Premier League in 2014.

      The Kura / Fury issue can be sorted in short time and should have been long ago.

      NZF are checking with overseas Federations as to whether any players should have been subject to an ITC.

      Whilst we are confident of what the players have stated it is irrelevant anyway.

      Fury like any other club eg Ngaruawahia Utd have had no way of checking on players. For NZF to be using a checking system not available to clubs to possibly penalise Fury is stepping outside the realm of natural justice. Therefore, even if NZF found something it cannot be used against Fury or any other club which has not been afforded the same privilege of process.

      In everyday situations both parties must have equal access to processes to advance their case and football should be no different.

      When one considers that the Varela and Marquez situations have been sorted in one week it defies logical mind that the Fury situation has taken 6 times as long so far.

      There is no logical , moral or any other description one can use for Fury to be penalised .

      It has played to the wording and spirit of the regulations and with only the same processes available to it as any other club .

      NZF can only impart anything found by enquiring overseas as a process for the future and not for anything that has gone before .

      The Fury players are confident of the situation and for NZF dragging the chain unnecessarily is damaging to the clubs.

      We decided to get moving anyway and start “pre season ” next week with NRFL football in mind .

  4. I’ve been biting my tongue and clenching my stubby little index fingers for too long…. enough already!

    Football folk – what the heck is wrong with you…. where are you taking this debate, can’t you actually see what really is at the core of this sanctimonious diatribe of one Mr Cook?!

    One person I have nothing against and certainly nothing for, to be clear, in that I don’t know him, only of him and I’ll take that with a grain or two of whatever comes to hand.

    Let’s spend a little over a minute on this:
    Yup, the summary copy of the Strategic Plan for football in New Zealand from 2013-2015, if you can get yourself to hold your attention through to page 02, Goal 3.4 ff..

    No cast your eye back to that victory pose of the Fury, (and to those that were at the game like Mr Fallon and others) your memory back to that 2nd game in (or close by, I should say) Papakura.

    Anything…. anyone?! OK- before I get too worked up, I’ll keep it short and sweet:

    – Let’s start with the one in goal, the righteous policeman, less than 20 yrs off form retirement, who tried to give me a lesson in sledging during the second half when I offered some friendly support to the referee…. tender 46 yrs of age, sure to go a long way on the player pathway and ready to take the game forward.

    – The back four; I might be off give or take 10yrs… but I’d say there were about 166yrs cramped into these, in places, tight fitting jerseys…. masters in the off-the-ball nip and tuck&pull rubbish so prevalent across all of NZ/OZ football leagues and never shy of labouring the ref’s ear, again, all bodes well for NZ budding football future, doesn’t it?

    – In the middle and across the park we had plenty of international flair on show from the Fury, oh so future orientated, great vote of confidence for the whole of football plan (, its long term objectives and its implementation, nationwide.

    – Up front a prize fighter who, in the spirit of the game, shouldn’t have even made it onto the pitch, given his pre-match antics in the changing sheds and on his way out, … enough said.

    Let’s be clear… on the day the better team won (and I can only talk about the 2nd game), but…. on the day, Uni Mt Wgtn Villa, a bunch of O40s would have spanked ‘Kura, probably by 5+ goals, so, Fury, hold your horses, you ain’t that flash after all… BUT…. all this doesn’t actually matter and all this is not the real issue. ‘Twas boys playing men and the men muscled up, to be honest, I would have liked to have seen the Papakura O35 1st Div team take the 2nd half and it might have been a different outcome altogether, but, again, that’s irrelevant and only plays into the hands of one DC…

    The real issue here is that football in NZ was the only real loser on the day. If we are to take the Strategic Plan for football in New Zealand serious, then the NRFL, and in particular the 2nd Div, is no place for some washed up last hooray mercenaries and a couple of (albeit entertaining) ring-ins full stop.

    The NRFL, its 2nd Division, needs to be set-up as an extension of the football development pathway of our emerging young players, the U17-U19 need to have a place to go to and in the real football world you’d call that the U23, if this means we need to regulate the competition, so be it, but it ain’t no place for old men, never mind how desperate they are to show up some young folk… that’s where cup competitions have a legitimate right of existence. We all love a contest and the prelim Chatham Cup rounds are always throwing up some bloody entertaining games, but, for the love of football, keep it, the designed inequality of contestants, where it belongs, in the knock-out competitions.

    [EDIT – I have removed a line here because it didn’t add anything to your argument and risks becoming part of a trend towards personal insults. I’d rather comments stick to the issues. Sorry if you are offended. Enzo.]

    Declaration of Interest:

    I coach football and I happen to have coached a Papakura youth team in 2013. I also participate in the delivery of the whole of football plan at FTC level.

  5. do me a favour then… remove the COYF from Cooks tripe and stick a ‘w’ behind the “[..] No…, cast your […]”

  6. Mr Cook is still waxing lyrical about his team and how they should be afforded the benefit of the doubt, because his players have told him they didn’t play in their home countries…really? You are taking their word for it? Pretty hypocritical by slamming Papakura and their club culture when a player uses a false name to play for one of their teams. Easy when you have one team to worry about!

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