The European Commission is supporting FIFA’s efforts to regulate the top football agents worldwide.
The Commission’s written submission to judges states that the Court of Justice of the European Union has given approval to new strict regulations from the world football governing body. These regulations include a limit on the fees that agents can receive from player transfer deals.
The European Union’s governing body has expressed support for prohibiting agents from representing multiple parties in a single transfer deal, implementing stricter qualifications for obtaining a football agent license, and enforcing a rule where players, rather than clubs, are responsible for paying their agents. These statements were included in written remarks to the Court of Justice of the European Union in Luxembourg on October 25, and were obtained by POLITICO.
The Commission’s strong support for FIFA marks the newest development in a heated conflict between the governing organization and leading agents. These agents claim that FIFA is unjustly attempting to restrict their ability to earn money, while also violating EU competition laws.
According to the Commission, the limitations on competition imposed by the Football Agent Regulations may be warranted due to FIFA’s pursuit of legitimate objectives. The Commission also highlighted the importance of safeguarding contractual stability, minimizing conflicts of interest, and protecting inexperienced players who may be unfamiliar with the transfer system.
The Mainz court in Germany sought advice from the highest court in the EU regarding certain aspects of EU legislation. This request was made by Roger Wittmann, a prominent German football agent, and his company RRC Sports, who were seeking clarification on the legality of FIFA’s laws.
The Commission noted in its remarks that EU law has traditionally allowed associations a certain level of freedom to manage their sports activities.
The Commission’s legal service has stated that the defendant’s argument regarding the cap on agent fees is valid. They have noted that exorbitant agency commissions, which are not tied to the actual cost of services, can motivate agents to have a significant influence on players, particularly in facilitating early transfers.
As for the prohibition of agents representing both the player and both clubs involved in a deal, the Commission stated that this regulation is also deemed effective in preventing any potential conflict of interest.
The statement stated that since a player agent is required to represent the releasing club, the player, and the receiving club at the same time, it raises questions about how the player agent can prioritize the best interests of all three parties simultaneously.
The Commission acknowledged that FIFA’s regulations may not adequately prevent potential conflicts of interest, as they allow for an agent to represent both a player and their hosting club simultaneously.
In the beginning of this year, the most prominent agents in the world, who are represented by The Football Forum, an organization that advocates for football agents and players, filed a complaint to the Commission regarding FIFA’s new regulations which they believed would hinder their ability to earn money. However, the Commission’s legal service has rendered this complaint ineffective.
This year, FIFA introduced new regulations for football agents, who are responsible for negotiating transfer deals between clubs and often earn large amounts of money. These regulations have faced strong opposition from top agents and have resulted in legal disputes in various countries, such as Germany, Spain, and Belgium.
The regulatory organization has stated that the regulations aim to strengthen the stability of contracts, safeguard the transfer system’s integrity, and increase financial transparency. Prominent agents dismissed FIFA’s reasoning, with one agent representative comparing it to “cartel activity” in April.
A specific date for the court hearing in Luxembourg has yet to be determined. The case is identified as C-209/23 RRC Sports.