The European summer sees the highest volume of transfer activity between clubs. However, the process is frequently beset with problems, such as the involvement of unlicensed agents, disputes over transfer formalities, or deals involving players who are not yet 18. In a conference call with reporters from leading global news agencies, FIFA Director of International Relations Jerome Champagne, and FIFA Director of Legal Affairs Marco Villiger, outlined FIFA’s plans to tackle issues with the organisational structures of the game.

“FIFA has the responsibility and the task of preserving the values of the game and its competitive integrity,” Champagne said by way of introduction. He referred to FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter’s increased resolve to implement closer regulation of the game, prompted and motivated by events in the year 2005, when match-fixing scandals in Germany, Finland and Belgium, and so-called “Third-Party-Transfers”, led to major problems within football. “For the first time in the history of football, all interested parties - players, clubs and national associations - were pulling in the same direction in order to protect the game and its players and to strengthen football’s administrative structures,” continued Champagne.

Players’ agents
The newly created Committee for Club Football chaired by UEFA President Michel Platini has begun addressing the problems associated with players’ agents. “At the present time, we estimate only 25 to 30 per cent of all international transfers are conducted via licensed agents. FIFA finds this unsatisfactory,” emphasised Marco Villiger. Unlicensed agents have no association with FIFA or any recognised governing body, so it is impossible to apply sanctions. FIFA can only sanction persons who fall under its jurisdiction. “The new initiative aims to exercise greater control over our indirect members – i.e. players and clubs,” Villiger added. “They could engage an agent to oversee transfers. There will be a list of requirements which clubs and players must fulfil. This would increase the supervision of players and clubs.” A proposal to this effect is currently being drafted by a working group and is scheduled for presentation to the FIFA Executive in March 2010.

Transfer Matching System (TMS)
A further initiative to control and regulate player transfers is the Transfer Matching System, in which all data relevant to a transfer must be entered into a web-based tool, thus ensuring full transparency in the transfer process. “More than 100 member associations – including all the major European national associations – and more than 1,000 clubs already use the system,” Villiger explained. “By March 2010, all 208 member associations will use this system, and the international transfer certificate will soon only be available in electronic form.” FIFA’s primary goal here is not to expose money-laundering, which is a matter for national authorities, but simply to increase transparency in transfer dealings. “But we can certainly be of assistance in passing questionable data and information, which crop up in the TMS and aid transparency in football, to the relevant authorities,” Villiger said.

Protection of minors

The protection of minors is a major concern to FIFA. To guarantee this, FIFA has established a sub-committee of the Players' Status Committee. The sub-committee is responsible for scrutinising and - provided the appropriate regulations are fulfilled - endorsing every international transfer involving an underage player, or the registration of an underage player for a different national association than the player’s country of birth. “We are aware of the substantial amount of work this will involve, but with this initiative, FIFA is acting on its responsibility to tackle this problem and safeguard minors,” commented Villiger.

At the same time, FIFA has significantly increased the compensation payable for training a player. “It has come to our attention that increasing numbers of clubs sign numerous players at the age of 15 and 16, because it is relatively inexpensive to bind these players to a contract, as the annual compensation fee is only 10,000 Euro,” Champagne explained. Increasing the compensation figure to 60,000 and 90,000 Euro depending on the category of the club recruiting the player will have a significant effect on this form of transfer. The new model is intended to promote solidarity in football, but also act as a form of deterrent to the clubs. “We want to be sure that talented youngsters remain with their home clubs for longer, and that these clubs are properly compensated for their youth work when the player does move on,” Champagne concluded.