FIFA intermediary and transfer regulations reform

Last Wednesday the FIFA Stakeholders Committee accepted a number of proposals aimed at transforming the transfer market and establishing tighter regulatory control of football agents and the loan system.

The proposals include the reintroduction of an agent licensing system, a continuous education scheme (so as to ensure agents are up to speed on all pertinent industry / legal developments related to their business activities), a FIFA-monitored dispute resolution system, and a clearing house, through which all agent fees are to be paid. The last element, modelled after the UK’s clearing house system, will be introduced on a global scale so as to enhance transparency in payments to agents.

Two controversial changes which are set to be implemented in the forthcoming regulations on agents involve the issues of dual representation and mandated caps on agent fees. Concerning dual representation, an agent will be limited to working in four scenarios: (1) on behalf of the player, (2) on behalf of the engaging club, (3) on behalf of the releasing club, and (4) on behalf of the player and the engaging club. Thus, an agent acting on behalf of both clubs, acting on behalf of the player and releasing club, or acting on behalf of all three parties will no longer be allowed. Concerning the fee cap, agents working on behalf of the engaging club or on behalf of the player will face a fee cap of 3% over the salary of the player. Meanwhile, agents working in a dual capacity for both the player and the engaging club have a maximum 6% cap (3% + 3%) per the deal. Finally, agents working on behalf of the releasing club have a 10% fee cap.

These elements are set to replace the current agent regulatory framework, Regulations on Working with Intermediaries (2015).

The Stakeholders Committee furthermore accepted changes to loan agreements in order to combat clubs from stockpiling players. Under the new reforms, which will go into effect in the 2021-22 season, clubs are limited to eight international loans, both in and out of the club, for players who are 22 years-old and older; this figure will be dropped to six players with the 2022-23 season. Meanwhile, there is a maximum of three loans in and three loans out involving the same two clubs.

While approved by the Stakeholders Committee, the aforementioned reforms will be presented to the FIFA Council on October 24th; if accepted, the reforms will  be formally enacted into new FIFA regulations.