Playing with Madrid Harps – FAQs

Madrid Harps is a fully affiliated club within the GAA. We have the same voting rights and are bound by the same rules as any other GAA Club in Ireland or the world except for some bye-laws. For GAA purposes we are in the County of Europe, which is all clubs in Europe outside of Britain and Ireland. We are affiliated to the Leinster Council. Europe GAA has certain bye-laws and exemptions which can be found here, European Competition Regulations 2014

When young people travel abroad, for some reason, they seem to think that they can walk on to a playing field on their first day and play with their new club. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. You wouldn’t expect to be allowed play for a club in Meath when you’re home club is in Galway without doing a transfer!

The GAA is a community based organisation and there are rules in place to protect that ethos. However, there is little to stop any player who has moved to Madrid or its surrounds, coming and playing for us. There are some rules that allow a player to return to Ireland and play for their home clubs while still being a member of the Harps and vice versa.

Transfer Rules – FAQ’s

(The purpose of this section is to explain the most common rules relating to transfers. It is by no means intended to replace the GAA Official Guide or European GAA Bye-Laws. Players should find the facts for themselves but we will do everything we can to help.)

The GAA Official Guide Chapter 6 (GAA Official Guide 2014; go to the bottom of the page) and the European Competition Regulations 2014 cover the rules on player transfers for Ladies and Men.

Q.1 I am Spanish and live in Spain. I have never any GAA sport for any club.

A.1 There’s no problem here. You can register easily by giving some personal details to the Harps, pay the membership fee and we will register you on the GAA Management System (Servasport). You are now a member of the GAA and the Harps. If you played for an Education Institution in Britain or Ireland there is no problem either as these clubs have exemptions. If you did join a club that wasn’t part of and Education Institution then you need to follow the rules like everyone else.



I moved to Madrid in 2014 and transferred to the Harps but I didn’t play any competitive game for them. I’ve decided now in 2015 that I want to go home and transfer back to my old club. Can I?

A.2 Yes and No. Yes, if you didn’t play a competitive game for the Harps in 2015 and No if you did. If you did then you’ll have to wait till 2016 to transfer back home. (Rule 6.6b (i))



I moved to Madrid in 2014 and immediately transferred to the Harps and played a competitive game for them. I’ve decided now in 2015 that I want to go home and transfer back to my old club. Can I?

A.3 Yes, there’s no problem here. (Rule 6b (i))

The rule on residency should be noted. It states that Permanent Residence is the place a person considers his principal private residence to have been for the past month and is likely to be for at least the ensuing year. You must meet this criteria for Full Transfers. (Rule 6.3)



I moved to Madrid in 2015. I’d love to play for the Harps but my club is doing well in the Championship back home and I want to go back and play for them this year. Can I?

A.4 You might be surprised to hear that yes, you can go back and play for your club and still play for the Harps If you played for your home club earlier in that year’s championship. This also applies vice versa – you want to move back home and finish out a championship that you started with the Harps. This rule exception applies to any competition but it must be the same competition. (Rule 6.7 Exception 8)



I only play hurling with my home club but want to play football with the Harps and still go home to play hurling, can I?

A.5 No. Transfers to apply to all levels and codes.



Is it true that you cannot play in two Championships for two different Clubs in the one year.

A.6 That’s absolutely correct. The Championship we play in in Europe is a 11 a-side and therefore is not connected to the 15 a-side Championship elsewhere. There is a 15 a-side Championship in Europe which at the moment, the Harps do not compete in. When we do it is the All Ireland Club Junior Championship so there would only be a problem if you played in that Junior Championship in Britain or Ireland. (There is some doubt about this because clarification is required on what Championship is – Rule 6.7a.). A weekend authorisation is another possibility but in general the Harps don’t do these for various reasons.



I am currently a member of my home club but want to play for the Harps this year but I will be returning to Ireland later in the year and want to play for my home club. Can I?

A.7 There are a few scenarios here:

a. If you are in Madrid for a recognised programme of study with a minimum duration of 12 weeks then you can do both. A permit must be applied for.

b. You may transfer to the Harps once you’re permanent residence here has been one month and you intend to stay for the ensuing year. However if you have to go back to Ireland then you may do so on a full transfer meeting the conditions set out in the Residency Rule above. You can transfer as often as you like once you meet these conditions and when you played your first competitive game for the Harps.



If I am member of the Harps can I travel on a Sanction to a club in another country (outside Britain and Ireland) for the summer?

A.8 The short answer is No and the long answer is also No. Only players with clubs in Ireland are allowed these sanctions. (Rule 6.11c)



What’s the story with “Weekend Transfers”?

A.9 A player who is a member of a club in Ireland may play for any club outside Ireland for one weekend only provided that his club in Ireland is not Senior or he is not an inter-county player. The sanction needs to be authorised the previous Wednesday and is valid for that weekend only. He automatically becomes available to his own club again after that weekend. A player can only receive one sanction of any kind in a given calendar year and teams are only allowed to field with two such players in football one player in ladies football and three in hurling. In Europe, teams are deducted three Championship points if they avail of this but that will not affect the final position standings i.e. you can still win the tournament but will receive three points less. Generally, the Harps do not avail of this sanction.



I am currently serving a suspension, can I still transfer or avail of a sanction?

A.10 No. Any player under suspension for whatever reason cannot transfer or receive a sanction under any circumstances until that suspension has been served.



What is the penalty for breaching any of these transfer rules?

A.11 They vary slightly in these examples but in general the penalty is a 48 week suspension for the Player, Secretary and Chairperson plus the forfeiture of any games played and possibly a fine for the club. Have a think about that!



Can I not just play under someone else’s name?

A.12 Sure yeah, no problem at all – choose whatever name you want!!


We will add more FAQs here as they arise. Please email us if you have any doubts.