By autumn at the latest, the governing body of world football will finally issue new regulations on the remuneration of intermediaries.
The 2021/2022 season doesn’t officially end until Tuesday with the final League of Nations games, but the summer transfer window has already started well. Between the never-ending tension that preceded Kylian Mbappé’s contract extension at PSG and Erling Haaland’s move from Borussia Dortmund to Manchester City, the transfer waltz began in spectacular fashion as the two big stars of the next decade were at stake.
Those two cases settled, the summer promises to be hot yet, with the possible return of Paul Pogba to Juventus, the wishes of Robert Lewandowski and perhaps Cristiano Ronaldo, to name just three examples out of hundreds.
40 million different commissions
But the hundreds of millions – and perhaps many more – who will be moving from club to club over the next 80 days are putting renewed focus on players’ agents’ often lewd commissions. To sum up the magnitude of what many are calling a ‘disaster’, Haaland’s transfer would have cost nearly £40m – on top of the roughly £75m of his release clause and, of course, his salary – according to multiple agreeing sources on various assignments at Manchester City. An astronomical sum shared by the heirs of the company founded by his lifelong agent, the late Mino Raiola, and the player’s father.
But the record in this matter belongs to the same Mino Raiola. Between the arrival of Paul Pogba – then at the end of his Manchester United contract – at Juventus in 2012 and his return to MU for the record €105m four years later, the Italian-Dutch agent would not have perceived less than €45m thanks of these two operations!
Entry into force: June 2023
Soccer-damaging excesses that FIFA has been trying to curb for years. Tendencies very close to resolution as a rule on the issue appears to be in the approval phase by the FIFA Council. If no official date has been set yet, everything should be ratified by next fall at the latest, with entry into force in June 2023. A new regulation that affects neither this summer transfer window nor January 2023.
Licensing required again
These future “FIFA Agents Regulations” will reintroduce a compulsory licensing system for these agents. Despite being terminated in 2015, FIFA is now determined to step back and regulate a transfer market that has grown steadily in recent years, highlighting its excesses. Among them, the increasingly important place of agents in both clubs and players is often targeted. They are accused of taking a speculative rather than sporting approach and maximizing referrals to increase their commissions. A criticism that is confirmed by studies by FIFA, but also by external organizations such as the Council of Europe. These studies underscore the need to make the transfer market fairer and more transparent.
“The number of intermediaries has increased sharply since the end of the licensing system in 2015, which has mainly led to a decrease in the quality of service provided to players,” explains Luis Villas-Boas Pires, head of FIFA’s agents department.
This development will be accompanied by the new clearing house that FIFA intends to set up shortly. This central tool, through which transfer compensation payments are to be made, will allow FIFA to ensure the payment of solidarity contributions, but also to control the commissions paid to agents. These are limited according to the agent’s role. If the latter represents the “selling” club that transfers a player during the transfer, the amount of the commission is capped at 10% of the transfer fee. For the agent representing the transferring player or club, this cap is 3% of the player’s salary.
The income of intermediaries is therefore strictly regulated, especially since this new regulation also provides for an end to multiple representation. No more triple representation, which allowed an agent to act on behalf of the three parties to a transfer (players, selling clubs and buyers) and therefore get paid three times. However, double representation of the player and the selling club remains possible, with cumulative commissions. An exception that shouldn’t be enough to reassure the agents.
Deviation remains possible
In order to achieve maximum transparency, the publication of all work performed by agents during a transfer – including various commissions received – will be required to also improve the credibility of the system. Good intentions, which unfortunately do not prevent the bright minds representing a player coveted by several clubs from increasing the stakes of their commissions, if possible hidden. In return, they take care of “convincing” their protégé to accept one suggestion over the other.
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