– Fifa wants to control the billion-dollar transfer business – ComCo approves it
The competition watchdogs are not intervening against the world football association’s new transfer regulations. The player agents are foaming at the mouth. You now have to hope for a decision abroad.
The big deal is over, at least for this summer. According to the, in the five largest European football leagues alone there were until the end of the official change window “Guardian” almost 1,500 player transfers. The deals between the top clubs from England, Germany, Spain, Italy and France are worth more than 6 billion francs. And that doesn’t even include Saudi Arabia, which spent around 1 billion francs on new professional footballers this year.
Player agents earn money from these amounts. They receive shares in the transfer fees and wages of their protégés. Now the world football association Fifa wants to take over the business and is introducing new rules for consultants. FIFA wants to ensure more “transparency and integrity”.
Every advisor must register with Fifa. The tariffs of players’ agents will be standardized, the transfer amounts and the fees of the agents will be collected and published. The payments will also be processed via FIFA’s own financial service provider in Paris.Die Player agents accuse FIFA of dirty trickswith which she imposes her will.
“It’s all about destroying our profession, especially the small agents, and at the same time increasing FIFA’s power, influence and money.”
Christoph Graf, President of the Swiss Football Agents Association
The player agents defend themselves against this. Christoph Graf is President of the Swiss Football Agents Association, the industry association for players’ agents. He says: “It’s all about destroying our profession, especially the small agents, and at the same time increasing FIFA’s power, influence and money.” In various countries, consultant associations have initiated proceedings against the new FIFA rules. Partly with success. That’s how it is District court in Dortmund the new FIFA regulations temporarily suspended in Germany.
Comco does not decide on any precautionary measures
In Switzerland, the local players’ agents filed a complaint with the competition commission in March in order to fend off the new FIFA rules. Our colleagues abroad also hoped that the process would be successful. But they seem to have bad cards.
Comco deputy director Olivier Schaller writes in response to a request from this editorial team: “The Competition Commission decided not to apply for any precautionary measures against Fifa. However, she wants to initiate a preliminary investigation to examine the effects of FIFA and the Swiss Football Association’s agent regulations on competition in Switzerland. According to Schaller, it is unclear how long it will take.
Players’ agent Graf says: “I am disappointed that the Comco has not ordered any precautionary measures. But it is encouraging that ComCo is now starting an investigation.”
In previous cases it has been shown that the Comco – after rejecting precautionary measures against FIFA – is unlikely to go into proceedings only to call FIFA back years later. However, it cannot be ruled out that the Comco will give FIFA one or two recommendations on how to structure the relationship with the players’ agents. For example, the abolition of the multiple representation of club and player by the same agent or the amount of the player’s agent’s share of the footballer’s salary.
Clear path for FIFA?
The renowned Swiss antitrust law expert and former Comco deputy Patrick Krauskopf says that it is understandable if the Swiss competition authorities come to this conclusion: “Even if a company is dominant in the market, it can set rules for its relationship with other market participants. If these rules restrict the presence of other market participants, the company must objectively explain why it is doing so.
That means: Fifa does decide on business in world football. But that can be okay. Namely if the football association can use economic arguments to justify the measures that have an impact on other providers in the market to the national competition authorities.
The world football association is also pleased about the Comco decision. “Fifa welcomes the competition authority’s decision to reject provisional measures, as many state courts in various countries have also rejected such measures,” said a FIFA spokesman. So FIFA seems to have a free rein – at least in Switzerland. And the consultants have to hope for a decision abroad.
Jorgos Brouzos has been a business journalist at Tamedia since 2015. He has been deputy head of the economic team since November 2022. He mainly reports on the Swiss financial center and the raw materials sector. He studied political science at the University of Zurich.More info@jorgosbrouzos