The FIDE Qualifications Commission has just published a new set of regulations for titles and player licensing which come into effect on 1 July 2013. (Click here for details) While the title regulations were discussed at the 2012 FIDE Congress, the new regulations for the licensing of players is a bigger surprise.
I'll start with the player licensing first. Essentially all players are to be registered with their National Chess Federation (NCF) and issued with a FIDE ID. The information gathered as part of the registration process includes: name, DOB, Place of Birth, gender, a photo, passport number, and existing FIDE ID.
The requirement to collect such information has already caused some ructions in various discussion forums, and on one level I can see why. Apart from the varying privacy provisions related to data collection and storage, there is clearly some information that cannot be provided. Not everyone has a passport number, and even for those that do, sharing it with others may also be a concern. Certainly in the case of the PNG Chess Federation, the vast majority of potential players do not have one. In practice that field is going to be blank for an awful lot of players.
While registration is free (at least for now), there are still financial costs attached to other parts of the regulations. Under the new regulations, all players in a FIDE rated event must be registered with FIDE before the start of the event, otherwise there is a 50 euro penalty charged to the organisers. There is an obvious problem with players who wish to enter an event and who aren't licensed. Given that the first contact most chess federations have with players is when they turn up to a tournament, it leads to a 'chicken-egg' situation in which a player can't play unless registered, while there is no point in registering a player unless they play. Having discussed this issue with QC Chairman Ignatius Leong, he suggests that NCF's license players when they play in their first domestic (ie non-FIDE rated) event. This of course still leaves the problem of players whose first event is a FIDE rated tournament. A better application here would simply require organisers/NCF's to register players at/after their first event, without penalty.
The other issue with the new system is that Federations can 'delist' players ie remove their license to play. At the 2012 Congress the FIDE Ethics Commission rules that while NCFs can sanction players belonging to their own federations, they cannot extend these sanctions to prevent players from playing in other countries. But under this new system, a Federation can apply a financial disincentive on such players, by removing their players license, and forcing any organiser who accepts their entry to pay an extra 50 euro penalty. A kind of 'end-run' around the Ethics Commission.
Apart from the flaws I have spotted, the major issue will simply be one of hard work. Federations who do not have direct membership schemes (eg Australia, England in part), will almost have to set up a de-facto one, to fulfil the requirements of the new system. Not that this is a bad thing in my opinion, but there will certainly be teething troubles to start with.
(NB: This post and the opinions contained are made in a private capacity, and not connected with any positions I hold on FIDE Commissions)