On 9 and 10 November, FIFA representatives attended a two-day conference on sports agents in Brussels organised by the European Commission.
Gathering together football associations, leagues, clubs, players and agents, as well as representatives of other team sports, the aim of the conference was to evaluate the current situation regarding players’ agents and consider possible solutions to the problems identified.
On the first day, following introductory speeches by representatives of the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Polish EU Presidency, FIFA Director of Legal Affairs Marco Villiger provided an overview of FIFA’s past activities in regulating players’ agents before moving on to its proposed reforms to the current regulations, which would see the players’ agents system replaced by the concept of “intermediaries”, covering anybody negotiating a transfer or a contract between a professional player and a club on a player’s or club’s behalf.
At present only 25 to 30 per cent of international transfers are concluded through licensed agents, with relatives, lawyers and non-licensed agents among those regularly representing players and/or clubs. FIFA‘s proposed reforms seek broader control over the activity and increased transparency, among other things by insisting on declaration of conflicts of interest, the registration of intermediaries with national associations and the disclosure of the remuneration paid.
The proposals also include limits on the amount of money that an intermediary can receive in relation to a transfer negotiation – setting a limit of 3 per cent of the player’s basic gross income or transfer fee, or of $2 million USD, whichever figure is the lowest.
Following the presentation of FIFA’s proposals and the findings of an independent study of sports agents in the EU, the opening day of the conference closed with a panel of representatives from the European leagues and clubs as well as the players’ and sports agents unions discussing the wide range of issues at stake.
On the second day, the conference took a closer look at models of players’ agent regulation in basketball, before FIFA’s Head of Players’ Status & Governance Omar Ongaro participated in a panel discussion during which he addressed many of the topics that had been raised about FIFA’s proposed reforms and emphasised the need for a global solution. In closing, Ongaro reiterated that FIFA considered its proposals to be the best starting point for a new solution.
The European Commission will now evaluate the outcome of the two-day conference and considers means of supporting the sports sector in its activities to regulate the sports agents’ profession.