SPORTS LAW AT THE CROSSROADS

From favela to fortune: conference sparks over role of agents and fees

By Andrew Warshaw

May 17 – FIFA is continuing to closely monitor the loan system to make sure that clubs stop hoarding players and beef up their squads for the right reasons.

A raft of European clubs have used the loan system to stockpile talented young players, signing them up and then loaning them out before selling them on for huge profits.

Chelsea have more than 30 players currently out on loan and reports late last year suggested that FIFA will soon be capping the maximum number of players out on loan by FIFA at between six and eight, hitting those clubs who farm out talent but hang on to their registration.

The subject was raised again at last week’s Sports Law at the Crossroads conference in Madrid when FIFA representatives stressed the importance of a new regulation.

Loans, delegates were told, would continue to be permitted but only for development purposes and not for commercial reasons. Under new rules yet to be introduced, sub-loans will be prohibited.

There was also heated debate over the issue of agents and specifically whether they should continue to be allowed to take up to 40% of a transfer fee and  represent more than one party in the same deal.

Jose Luis Andrade, general counsel for the European Clubs Association, was one of those who raised the issue and told Insideworldfootball after his presentation: “The general intention is to have a balanced system where everyone can have a more transparent market though obviously agents must be entitled to proper remuneration at the conference.”

In the audience was Portugal-based Brazilian agent Paulo Teixeira who has represented a number of high-profile players.

Teixeira, an agent since the 1994 World Cup who says he has been involved in more than 100 transactions including negotiating with such clubs as Barcelona, real Madrid and Chelsea, said those involved in trying to regulate his profession “simply don’t see the reality.”

“Without agents, the transfer business simply would simply not function,” he told Insideworldfootball. “These people keep on trying to restrict agents. But they know nothing about the business. Agents may have a bad name but FIFA has not looked properly at the issue from day one. The authorities want to put a cap on agents’ fees but it’s an expensive business. Clubs will always bend to an agent if they want a player that badly.”

“And let me ask you this. How many of those who talk about agents have actually gone into a favela in Brazil to watch a player? I’ve done it many times.”

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