What effects have FIFA’s Intermediaries Regulations had on player representation and commission levels?

Published 11 October 2016 By: Zane Shihab, Nick Bitel

What effects have FIFA’s Intermediaries Regulations had on player representation and commission levels?

The licensing system for football agents was abolished on 1st April 2015 and replaced by the concept of “intermediaries” in accordance with the FIFA Regulations on Working with Intermediaries (the “Regulations”).1

FIFA (rather predictably) hailed the new regime as a “system that is more transparent and simple to administer and implement, resulting, in turn, in better enforcement at national level”.2 However, some (including the Association of Football Agents3 which represents many existing agents in the United Kingdom, the “AFA”), declared that this would “restore the world of agency to the Wild West.4 (For additional views on the Regulations, please also see LawInSport articles here5 and here6).

As the summer transfer window draws to a close the names of so-called “super-agents”, such as Jorge Mendes and Mino Raiola, are in the news almost as much as their superstar footballer clients. Indeed, the celebrity that such agents now experience was summed up in typically self-effacing fashion by Cristiano Ronaldo who described his representative Mendes as the “the Cristiano Ronaldo of football agents”.7

So, how have the intermediaries - from the big fish like Mendes and Raiola, to the more modest agents - been affected by the Regulations a little over a year after they came into force? This article examines and offers comment on the changes to date, looking specifically at:

  • Recap of the Regulations

  • Effects on the market and quality of representation

  • Commission levels

  • Protection of minors

  • Conclusions and recommendations

 

Recap of the Regulations 

Before examining how they have worked in practice, it is expedient to recap the main elements of the Regulations:

  • We have moved away from the concept of an “agent” and now those engaged in providing services to a player or a club to conclude an employment contract between a player or conclude a transfer agreement between two clubs will be termed an “intermediary”.8

    • Unlike under the previous regime, an intermediary may now be both a legal or natural person, such that corporate bodies will fall under the ambit of the Regulations.9 

  • Breaches of the Regulations will be enforced by the national association and any sanctions imposed may be extended by the FIFA Disciplinary Committee. 10 

  • Intermediaries are no longer required to pass an exam before a national governing body (such as the Football Association, the “FA”) register them. Instead, they will merely have to certify that they do not have “a potential conflict of interest” and that they possess an “impeccable reputation”.11

  • FIFA advised players and clubs to adopt the following “benchmarks”: 

    • The total remuneration per transaction due to intermediaries on the player’s behalf should not exceed 3% of the player’s basic gross income for the duration of the relevant employment contract; 

    • The total remuneration per transaction due to intermediaries who have been engaged by a club in order to conclude an employment contract with a player should not exceed 3% of the player’s eventual gross income for the duration of the relevant employment contract; or 

    • The total remuneration per transaction due to intermediaries who have been engaged by a club in order to conclude a transfer agreement should not exceed 3% of the eventual transfer fee paid in connection with the relevant transfer of the player.12

  • There is now a prohibition on players and clubs from paying an intermediary when negotiating an employment contract and/or a transfer agreement if the player concerned is a minor (i.e. under eighteen years of age).13

The latter three measures caused the most consternation in the much-maligned agent community. But have these fears been realised?

(Note: for a detailed explanation of The FA’s Regulations on Working with Intermediaries, please see here14).

 

Effects on the market and quality of representation

 

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Author

Zane Shihab

Zane Shihab

Zane is an Associate Partner in the Sports Department and provides commercial advice to global brands, international sporting bodies and events and high-profile individuals.

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Nick Bitel

Nick Bitel

Nick Bitel has spent over 35 years working in the sports sector acting as a lawyer, administrator and chief executive. 

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