Explained: Why football and Fifa’s super agents are on a collision course

Written by Shashank Nair, edited by Explained Desk | New Delhi |

Updated: April 3, 2021 4:37:55 PM

In 2019, Fifa estimated that football agents made around $ 653 million from player sales, a 19.3% increase from 2018. That figure and its steady increase have put the governing body in the spotlight. football on its way to war against the biggest players in the game. And Fifa has trained its guns specifically on “ super agents ” – a group with a direct influence on football’s biggest transfers, either through management of the player or by transfer.

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What does FIFA offer?

Fifa has two main agendas in the proposed reforms, which it wants to push forward with the aim of reducing the power of the modern football agent. The first reform proposed is that an agent cannot represent either the player or the club when organizing a transfer, except if the player and the club agree to employ the agent.

The second reform limits the amount of money an agent can earn from a transfer. Fifa has suggested a one-off sum of 3% of a player’s annual salary or 10% of transfer fees to a selling club.

Who are the top super agents?

Italian super agent Mino Raiola is the current representation of superstars like Erling-Braut Haaland, Mattias de Ligt, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba. Agents like Jorge Mendes, Jonathan Barnett and German agent Roger Wittmann are also in Fifa’s firing line.

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Why are the agents opposed to these reforms?

Take the case of France’s World Cup winner Paul Pogba. Under contract with Raiola, Pogba has been the subject of a £ 100million transfer between Juventus and Manchester United. In this scenario, according to a Guardian article, Raiola has represented Juventus, Manchester United and Paul Pogba, all at the same time. He pocketed a cool £ 41million from the three parties combined and started a whole conflict of interest debate between football agents representing multiple parties in a deal.

Under the system proposed by Fifa, which they intend to implement from 2022, Raiola, in this particular transfer example, would only be likely to pocket 3% of the annual salary of 8, £ 6million from Paul Pogba, which is 10% of the £ 100million price tag that the two teams agreed to.

Either way, Raiola is at risk of losing quite a bit of money. This led him to launch a sort of retaliation against Fifa.

What are the super agents doing to challenge Fifa’s dictates?

In 2019, a group of super agents including Raiola, Cristiano Ronaldo agent Jorge Mendes, Gareth Bale agent Jonathan Barnett formed the “ Football Forum ”. It is a group specially created to unionize in the face of Fifa reforms. Barnett spoke to the Guardian about exactly what their criticism of Fifa and the proposed reforms were.

“The caps are only one part [of the regulations] everyone seems to be focusing on. These rules were written by people who have no idea what an agent is doing. They have no idea other than what people are speculating on the agents. When they say it’s to help the players, they’re talking from behind. There are certainly none of my players who would rather be represented by Fifa than by us. It is absolutely outrageous that, without proper consultation, they can write rules that they believe will be legal. We have some of the best advice from the Queen (a lawyer appointed by the monarch) in England and the best lawyers in Europe, so I hope that doesn’t come. But if it does, so be it, ”Barnett told The Guardian.

Who regulates agents?

While the Football Forum stands ready to sue Fifa – if the reforms are made legal – their activities have forced Fifa’s hand. Until 2015, Fifa was the regulator of agents, an activity they then left to member associations. This system clearly did not work. In a statement, Fifa said that as an organization it has witnessed abusive practices, conflicts of interest and a market driven by speculation – all of which must be curbed by bringing agents under regulation. .

In what areas are agents likely to attack Fifa?

Recently, the consortium of Mino Raiola and Jonathan Barnett, along with their players Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Gareth Bale, asked how EA Sports’ FIFA 21 game was allowed to use their likeness, even if they had never given explicit consent on their own.

EA’s relations are directly with Fifa on the issue of brand licenses. Fifa for its part obtains authorizations from a combination of leagues, such as their agreement with the Premier League, or of the teams themselves, such as their agreement with AC Milan or directly with the players themselves.

Bale is currently plying his trade in the Premier League and therefore falls under that deal, while rights to Ibrahimovic’s likeness have been traded to Fifa by AC Milan themselves.

Apart from this problem, the collective of agents is likely to aim for Fifa’s own record for bad governance, corruption and reform. Specifically, a look at the Sepp Blatter (former president) saga will show that Fifa itself has struggled to put its house in order.