Revealed: Why agents may sue FIFA

Bryan Swanson

Chief Reporter, Sky Sports News

Gareth Bale’s agent, Jonathan Barnett: “People at FIFA just think they know what agents do, when they don’t have a clue. They don’t consult properly, and they don’t engage with us in a meaningful way.”

Last Updated: 23/01/20 12:25am

1:52
Leading football agents Jonathan Barnett and Mino Raiola have threatened FIFA with legal action over proposals to impose restrictions on transfer payments
Leading football agents Jonathan Barnett and Mino Raiola have threatened FIFA with legal action over proposals to impose restrictions on transfer payments

Football’s top agents have threatened legal action against FIFA over plans to cap their fees for transfers.

Sky Sports News’ chief reporter Bryan Swanson spoke to some of the game’s most powerful representatives after a meeting of the Association of Football Agents [AFA] at Barnet’s stadium, The Hive.

What’s the issue?

Last year, FIFA announced plans to limit agents of the selling club to a maximum of 10 per cent of the transfer fee and a 3 perc ent cap of the player’s fee.

It has led to a furious response from some of the game’s most influential representatives, who want FIFA to hold more talks with them before their proposals are turned into regulations.

Mel Stein is the Association of Football Agents life president
Mel Stein is the Association of Football Agents life president

Mel Stein, AFA life president, says: “We’re going to be writing to FIFA and, 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.”

How are agents feeling?

Extremely irritated, to put it mildly.

“We want fairness,” explained Jonathan Barnett, who represents players including Gareth Bale, Luke Shaw and Jordan Pickford. “We act for players, we don’t act for FIFA. People at FIFA just think they know what agents do, when they don’t have a clue. They don’t consult properly, and they don’t engage with us in a meaningful way.”

Mino Raiola, who represents players including Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paul Pogba, Moise Kean and Erling Haaland, told Sky Sports News: “This was a very important meeting. If you look at the history of the world, justice always wins. We will win.”

Super agent Mino Raiola is confident they will win the fight with FIFA
Super agent Mino Raiola is confident they will win the fight with FIFA

Don’t agents get paid enough?

FIFA say agents earned nearly £500m [$653m] in fees last year, four times more than in 2015. But representatives say the figure is missing the point.

They believe it is unfair to introduce a cap, as it does not happen elsewhere in the game or other industries.

“I don’t think intelligent supporters think that (agents receive enough money),” says Raiola. “I think that, maybe, intelligent supporters also understand that there is a media war against agents.

“Why attack agents? FIFA is raising their ticket money every year. Why does FIFA want all their transfer monies in the FIFA bank? This is only about power. They have to get some victories.”

Will agents really take FIFA to court?

Yes and, potentially, at multiple courts around the world.

“I don’t think FIFA are willing to talk,” says Barnett. “But I’m in the minority. We would love to talk to them. We will try everything with FIFA but, if necessary, we will go to every court in the land, from around the world.”

How has FIFA responded?

Robustly. They will point to several consultation meetings, including a task force discussion in August 2018 at FIFA HQ in Zurich, attended by agents including Barnett, Rob Jansen and Dr Erkut Sogut.

FIFA says its proposals will “improve transparency, protect player welfare, enhance contractual stability and 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.”

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Source : Sky Sports