The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has published a much improved AFC Disciplinary Code for 2016. The substantial amendments include the introduction of new offences and sanctions, including a defined table of sanctions for spectator offences. The new Code was approved by the AFC Executive Committee on November 27 in Delhi, India.

AFC General Secretary Dato’ Windsor John said: “The new AFC Disciplinary Code places the AFC at the cutting edge of latest international sports law. Commitment to sports justice is at the very heart of the AFC’s work. The AFC Disciplinary Code is a vital tool in order to protect the integrity of the AFC competitions and the credibility of the sport in Asia.”

The amendments are based on recommendations by an AFC-appointed taskforce (see more here), which reviewed the previous 2014 edition of the AFC Disciplinary Code in order to align it with recent judgements of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). The Code comes into force on January 1, 2016.

The amendments broaden the scope of the Code to include, in addition to matches, all AFC functions and courses. Also international friendlies are now expressly included. Harming match officials physically or otherwise in competitions governed by the MAs is now also covered by the Code.

The AFC Disciplinary Code 2016 introduces significant new sanctions, which include: full or partial stadium closure, disqualification from a competition in progress or future competition, ordering a match to be replayed, withdrawal of a title or award, withholding of revenues from an AFC competition, prohibition on registering new players or restriction on the number of players to be registered in AFC competitions, and withdrawal of a club licence.

The offences in the Code are clearly defined and specific minimum penalties for all first time offences have been introduced. New offences have also been introduced, especially to reinforce the fight against match-fixing, including: prohibition on providing ‘special knowledge’ which would jeopardise the integrity of matches, failing to report infringements, as well as a prohibition on association with a party convicted of a match manipulation offence. A ban on betting has been included in the Code, with the introduction of direct or indirect involvement in betting as an offence. In addition, other new offences include bringing the game into disrepute, deliberately entering the field of play during a brawl and causing damage to property.

The new Code introduces clarifications which ensure sports integrity is maintained. It clarifies the definition of a ‘ban from taking part in any kind of football-related activity’. Suspensions in all competitions will now be carried over to the same category of football (i.e. football, futsal, or beach soccer) and cannot be served in a different category. Importantly, pending suspensions earned in club competitions will no longer be carried over to national leagues but solely to continental competitions in the same category of football or futsal.

Finally, the new Code provides clubs an express right to appeal against decisions against their players or officials.

Please see here for the comprehensive list of amendments to AFC Disciplinary Code 2016 circulated to the Member Associations.

Please find here a copy of the AFC Disciplinary Code 2016.

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