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  • Writer's pictureEspen Auberg

Football agents – Intermediaries- Football agents

Updated: Oct 14, 2022

Preamble

For many years it was a condition to be able to operate as a football agent that the football agent was licensed by FIFA. The system with football agents lasted until 2015, when FIFA replaced the agent system with a new set of regulations, Regulations on working with intermediaries.

The change from football agents to intermediaries was a consequence of FIFA having registered a strong increase in the total fees for football agents. In 2014, the year before the change came into force, 236 million US dollars were paid to football agents. In addition to these official figures, FIFA believed that the real fees of football agents were significantly higher. Furthermore, FIFA had recorded that many football transfers were carried out by unlicensed football agents, and that transfers were not very transparent, which made it difficult to map the overall costs associated with a transfer.

In connection with the publication of the intermediary regulations, FIFA stated that they wanted to establish a set of regulations which does not regulate access to the market with regard to who can be a football agent or an intermediary, but which facilitates better control, monitoring and transparency, where the clubs can choose which intermediary they want, as long as the intermediary fulfills defined minimum conditions.

The intermediary regulations in a nutshell

FIFA's regulations for intermediaries contain a set of minimum criteria that the national associations are obliged to follow.

The biggest change compared to the regulations for football agents is that FIFA the abolishment of the licensing scheme where passing an agent test was one of the conditions for being licensed as a football agent. In the intermediary regulations, there are few restrictions regarding who can act as an intermediary in an agreement between club and player beyond the fact that the mediator must meet certain minimum criteria, including that a mediator must have an impeccable reputation and not have a contractual connection to a national association or FIFA that could lead to a potential conflict of interest . Both individuals and companies will be able to register as intermediaries, without any requirement for professional competence or a licence.

The system stipulates that the intermediary must accept the publication of transactions, payments and agreements in which the intermediary has been involved. It is the players and clubs involved who are responsible for submitting relevant documentation to the national association. The national association must publish the names of all registered intermediaries together with individual transactions in which the intermediaries have been involved, and the total fees for each individual intermediary.

In contrast to the previous regulations for football agents, it is important to note that the regulations have a provision to protect minor players, as it is prohibited to pay intermediaries for transfers involving minor players, i.e. anyone under 18 years of age. There is still an opportunity to enter into a representation contract with players under the age of 18.

Challenges with intermediaries - new regulations for football agents

Experience clearly shows that there are a number of challenges linked to the system with football intermediaries compared to how this worked under the system with football agents.

Firstly, in contrast to the system with football agents, it is more or less free for everyone to act as an intermediary, which may have resulted in an increase in representation from intermediaries who do not necessarily are skilled in representing clubs and players during transfers and contract signings. Such a system gives rise to a large degree of poor advice.

Secondly, the system with intermediaries has led to a sharp increase in the number of intermediaries, which in turn has led to more disputes between intermediaries, where the subject of the dispute typically is who has a valid representation contract with a player or club. Under the previous system, there were rather few licensed football agents, but with many more football intermediaries in the market, there has been an increase in cases where several intermediaries claim to represent the same player.

The system with intermediaries has not worked as desired, and FIFA is in the process of replacing the current system with intermediaries with a new set of regulations for football agents, which will largely be based on the previous agent regulations. The new system with football agents is expected to be in place during 2023, as a part of a larger project called the FIFA Clearing House, which, in short, intends to give FIFA more responsibility for distributing transfer fees whenever a player is transferred, to everyone that is entitled to a part of the transfer fee,e.g. as transfer fee, training compensation, solidarity contribution, agent fee or sell-on-fee.



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