HomeNewsFinance & MoneyFootball

Agents threaten legal action over Fifa payments cap

Fifa's headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland (by Valeriano Di Domenico/Getty Images)

Leading football agents have threatened Fifa with legal action over the governing body’s plans to cap commissions earned on player transfers.

Some 200 agents, including leading names Mino Raiola, Jorge Mendes and Jonathan Barnett, gathered at a meeting of the Association of Football Agents in London yesterday to discuss their opposition to the plans.

Fifa in September announced its intention to introduce new regulations around player transfers, including capping agents’ earnings at 10 per cent of a transfer fee. Yesterday, the body said it would press ahead with the rules, and they would address “the law of the jungle” prevailing around football transfers.

The BBC reported Jonathan Barnett, who represents players including Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale, said yesterday: “If you ask players what they want, they are in favour of agents. There are never complaints about agents’ fees from players.

“We will try until the last minute to resolve the problem but rest assured, if necessary we will go to every court in the world.”

He added: “We want fairness. Fifa should recognise us and treat us in a proper manner.

“The truth is Fifa doesn’t know exactly what an agent does. No-one from Fifa has ever been to my office or had a conversation with me.”

Mel Stein, life president of the Association of Football Agents, said: “For the first time, we have agreed a united policy in respect of Fifa’s proposals.

“We will be writing to them jointly to advise them that once there is a formal, consultative process in place where all parties can bring their proposals to the table, we will be eager to meet with them.

“As far as we are concerned, it sends a clean, positive message to Fifa on where we are on this.”

Fifa published a press release yesterday noting that it had conducted “an extensive consultation process” with players, clubs, leagues and member associations, and agents before endorsing them. Fifa said: “The overarching objective here is to improve transparency, protect player welfare, enhance contractual stability and also raise professional and ethical standards.  In other words, to eliminate or at least reduce the abusive and excessive practices which unfortunately have existed in football.

“Fifa, as football’s governing body, has the responsibility to address and regulate these matters. We are aiming for a system of balanced and reasonable regulation, instead of the law of the jungle currently in place, with conflicts of interests rife and exorbitant “commissions” being earned left and right.”

The organisation said that agents had earned $635.9m in fees last in the last year, four times their earnings in 2015. It said the new rules were “sensible, reasonable, rational, proportionate and necessary to protect the interests of players and the wider interests of football” and were also in line with sentiment expressed by the European Commission and European Parliament.

Fifa said it is in the process of developing the rules. The reforms include:

  • Establishment of a cap on commissions to avoid excessive and abusive practices
  • Limitation of multiple representation to avoid conflicts of interest
  • Reintroduction of a mandatory licensing system for agents to raise professional standards
  • Creation of a Fifa Clearing House to guarantee better financial transparency
  • Establishment of an effective Fifa dispute resolution system to address disputes between agents, players and clubs
  • Disclosing and publishing all agent-related work in transfers, to increase transparency, improve the credibility of the transfer system and support the implementation of new regulations.