Asser International Sports Law Blog

Our International Sports Law Diary
The Asser International Sports Law Centre is part of the T.M.C. Asser Instituut

FFP for Dummies. All you need to know about UEFA’s Financial Fair Play Regulations.

Football-wise, 2014 will not only be remembered for the World Cup in Brazil. This year will also determine the credibility of UEFA’s highly controversial Financial Fair Play (FFP) Regulations. The FFP debate will soon be reaching a climax, since up to 76 European football clubs are facing sanctions by the UEFA Club Financial Control Body (CFCB). More...

Prof. Weatherill's lecture on : Three Strategies for defending 'Sporting Autonomy'

On 10 April, the ASSER Sports Law Centre had the honour of welcoming Prof. Weatherill (Oxford University) for a thought-provoking lecture.

In his lecture, Prof. Weatherill outlined to what extent the rules of Sports Governing Bodies enjoy legal autonomy (the so-called lex sportiva) and to what extent this autonomy could be limited by other fields of law such as EU Law. The 45 minutes long lecture lays out three main strategies used in different contexts (National, European or International) by the lex sportiva to secure its autonomy. The first strategy, "The contractual solution", relies on arbitration to escape the purview of national and European law. The second strategy, is to have recourse to "The legislative solution", i.e. to use the medium of national legislations to impose lex sportiva's autonomy. The third and last strategy - "The interpretative or adjudicative solution"- relies on the use of interpretation in front of courts to secure an autonomous realm to the lex sportiva


Enjoy!


 

Tapping TV Money: Players' Union Scores A Goal In Brazil. By Giandonato Marino

On March 27, 2014, a Brazilian court ruling authorized the Football Players’ Union in the State of Sao Paulo[1] to tap funds generated by TV rights agreements destined to a Brazilian Club, Comercial Futebol Clube (hereinafter “Comercial”). The Court came to this decision after Comercial did not comply with its obligation  to pay players’ salaries. It is a peculiar decision when taking into account the global problem of clubs overspending and not complying with their financial obligations.  Furthermore, it could create a precedent for future cases regarding default by professional sporting clubs.

More...

International transfers of minors: The sword of Damocles over FC Barcelona’s head? by Giandonato Marino and Oskar van Maren

In the same week that saw Europe’s best eight teams compete in the Champions League quarter finals, one of its competitors received such a severe disciplinary sanction by FIFA that it could see its status as one of the world’s top teams jeopardized. FC Barcelona, a club that owes its success both at a national and international level for a large part to its outstanding youth academy, La Masia, got to FIFA’s attention for breaching FIFA Regulations on international transfers of minors. More...

Athletes = Workers! Spanish Supreme Court grants labour rights to athletes

Nearly twenty years after the European Court of Justice declared in the Bosman case that all professional athletes within the EU were given the right to a free transfer at the end of their contracts, the Spanish Tribunal Supremo[1] provided a judgment on 26 March 2014 that will heighten a new debate on the rights of professional athletes once their contract expires.

More...

Welcome to the ASSER International Sports Law Blog!

Dear Reader,

Today the ASSER International Sports Law Centre is very pleased to unveil its new blog. Not so surprisingly, it will cover everything you need to know on International Sports Law: Cases, Events, Publications. It will also feature short academic commentaries on "hot topics".

This is an interactive universe. You, reader, are more than welcome to engage with us via your comments on the posts, or a message through the contact form (we will answer ASAP).

This is an exciting development for the Centre, a new dynamic way to showcase our scholarly output and to engage with the sports law world. We hope you will enjoy it and that it will push you to come and visit us on our own playing field in The Hague.

With sporting regards,

The Editors


Asser International Sports Law Blog | A Short Guide to the New FIFA Regulations on Working with Intermediaries

Asser International Sports Law Blog

Our International Sports Law Diary
The Asser International Sports Law Centre is part of the T.M.C. Asser Instituut

A Short Guide to the New FIFA Regulations on Working with Intermediaries

This year’s FIFA congress in Sao Paulo should not be remembered only for the controversy surrounding the bid for the World Cup 2022 in Qatar. The controversy was surely at the centre of the media coverage, but in its shadow more long-lasting decisions were taken. For example, the new Regulations on Working with Intermediaries was approved, which is probably the most important recent change to FIFA regulations. These new Regulations will supersede the Regulations on Players’ Agents when they come into force on 1 April 2015. In this blog post we compare the old and the new Regulations followed by a short analysis and prospective view on the effects this change could have. 


The Road to the New Regulations

Players’ agents, or “intermediaries” should we use FIFA’s new terminology, provide their services to football players and clubs to conclude employment contracts and transfer agreements. FIFA has been regulating this activity since it introduced the first Regulations on players’ agents on 1 January 1996. Even though the Regulations were amended several times since then, it is only during the last five years that a permanent consultation process was put in place. According to a FIFA press release, the consultation process involved member associations, confederations, clubs, FIFPro and professional football leagues. Surprisingly however, the press release does not mention whether agent stakeholders, such as Pro Agent were also consulted. The ultimate objective of these consultations was to propose a new system that is more transparent and simpler in its implementation and administration.[1] At the beginning of 2013, a Sub-Committee for Club Football was set up to deal exclusively with the issue of reforming the Players’ Agents Regulations. Later on that year the Committee presented a draft for the FIFA Congress 2013 based on the following three findings:

  1. The current licensing system should be abandoned

  2. A set of minimum standards and requirements  must be established in FIFA’s future regulatory framework

  3. A registration for intermediaries must be set up [2]

The draft Regulations were finally approved by the FIFA Executive Committee on 21 March 2014 and by the FIFA Congress on 11 June 2014. Furthermore, the three objectives outlined are supposedly reflected in the new Regulations.  


A Rough Comparison of the Old and New Agents/Intermediaries Regulations

In the following flowcharts we have summarized the key requirements enshrined in both the old and the new agents/intermediaries FIFA regulations. This provides a clear comparison of the differences and similarities existing between the two regulatory frameworks.

Flowchart: Becoming an Agent under the Old FIFA Regulations
FlowchartRegulationsPlayers'Agents.jpg (179.7KB) 



Flowchart: Becoming an Intermediary under the New FIFA Regulations
FlowchartRegulationsonWorkingwithIntermediaries.jpg (146.5KB)


By abandoning the old licensing system, the procedure to become an intermediary becomes much simpler than before. The applicant does not have to undergo an examination by FIFA anymore, nor does he need to conclude a professional liability insurance in his own name or provide a bank guarantee from a Swiss bank for a minimum amount of CHF 100,000. Furthermore, in contrast to the old Regulations, legal persons can now also act as intermediaries. Thus, in the near future we can expect players such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Radamel Falcao and coach Jose Mourinho to be represented by the agents’ company GestiFute rather than simply the agent Jorge Mendes. 

However, it should be noted that FIFA’s new Regulations on Working with Intermediaries are to be considered as minimum standards or requirements. In accordance with Art. 1(3), the right of associations to go beyond these minimum standards/requirements is preserved. In other words, national associations can set higher thresholds for becoming an intermediary should they wish for. In order to better understand the practical reality of the regulation of agents it is therefore necessary to analyse to what extent different associations set different standards and requirements.  

Registration

Under the new Regulations, the national associations will still be responsible for adopting a registration system regarding the intermediaries. However, several important changes between the old and the new Regulations can be deciphered, including the contractual terms between the intermediary and the player/club and the remuneration terms.  

Contractual terms

Under the old Regulations, the representation contract between the agent and the player and/or club would only be valid for a maximum period of two years. Moreover, the contract could be extended for another period of maximum two years (Art. 19(3) of the old Regulations). According to Art. 3 of the new Regulations, "intermediaries must be registered in the relevant registration system every time they are individually involved in a specific transaction". Players and clubs disclose all the details to the association when called upon. Thus, by allowing players not to be contractually bound to a specific intermediary for a specific period of time, the bargaining position of the player when engaging the services of an intermediary is likely to increase.

Remuneration terms

In both the old as well as in the new Regulations the amount of remuneration shall be calculated on the basis of the player’s basic gross income. [3] Nonetheless, where under the old Regulations the remuneration is calculated on the basis of the player’s annual income, under the new Regulations the remunerations is calculated on the basis of the player’s income for the entire duration of the contract. Moreover, as stipulated in Art. 7(3)a) of the new Regulations, the “total amount of remuneration per transaction due to intermediaries (…) should not exceed 3% of the player’s basic gross income for the entire duration of the contract”. Secondly, the new Regulations prohibit any payment to intermediaries when the player is a minor.[4] With the new provisions on remuneration FIFA hopes to avoid that intermediaries exploit players. Indeed, in many countries it is still common practice for players to (unknowingly) sign contracts with their agents forcing them to pay a much higher share of their income. This was perfectly possible under the old Regulations since it did not provide a remuneration limit due to the players’ agents and there was no prohibition regarding remuneration to the agent when the player is a minor and should be way more difficult under the new Regulations.


Conclusion
With the new Regulations FIFA attempts not to regulate access to the activity anymore, but instead to shape the practice itself: players and clubs are authorised to choose any parties as intermediaries and can change intermediary at any moment since they are not bound by a contract with the intermediary. Furthermore, with the remuneration limit of 3% of the player’s income FIFA aims to limit the risk of players being exploited by their intermediaries.

Even though FIFA has explicitly stated the new Regulations will not deregulate the profession, it seems that it is placing the main responsibility to regulate onto the national associations. Not only will all the national associations be required to introduce a registration system, but they are also responsible for enforcing the rules and for imposing sanctions in case the new Regulations are breached. As we have seen, when selecting an intermediary, players and clubs shall act with due diligence. However, the definition of the interpretation of the notion of due diligence is left open and could differ from country to country.

With the game of football becoming ever more globalised and with an ever increasing amount of international transfers of players, regulating the profession of agent/intermediary at the national level is becoming increasingly difficult. In this context, FIFA has adopted a surprising orientation by delegating the responsibility to regulate the profession to the national associations.



[1] http://www.fifa.com/aboutfifa/organisation/administration/news/newsid=2301236/

[2] http://www.fifa.com/aboutfifa/organisation/bodies/congress/news/newsid=2088917/

[3] The Regulations on Players’ Agents, Art. 20(1) and the Regulations on Players’ Agents, Art. 7(1)

[4] The Regulations on Players’ Agents, Art. 7(8)

Comments (1) -

  • Willem

    11/6/2014 9:08:30 PM |

    What do you mean by "players and clubs are authorised to choose any parties as intermediaries and can change intermediary at any moment since they are not bound by a contract with the intermediary" in your conclusion? As I understand it, players/clubs will still conclude contracts with intermediaries (now there is just no 2 year limit anymore for duration of the contract) and be bound by these contracts. An intermediary can conclude a 5 year contract with a player, but he will just have register each time he negotiates a transfer for his player. Or am I wrong here?

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