FIFA’s April fool | R.I.P – Licensed Player Agent

 It may seem a welcome development for FIFA to finally lay to rest today, the most controversial persona in the football business – Licensed Player Agent.

The Licensed Agents had been accused of many things. Agents are most commonly seen in the media spotlight during high-profile transfers and contract negotiations. As a result, public perceptions are far from favorable. To managers and club chairmen, agents can appear as obdurate negotiators intent on exorbitant deals for their clients – and the commissions that accompany them. Among fans, they are often seen as manipulative and cynical, loyal only to themselves, and capable of convincing players to abandon clubs against their best interests.

There are lots of cases brought against Agents and their players at the FIFA court of Arbitration and its all bad image for the profession.

 Some years ago, the football governing body tried to distance itself from these notorious personals by asking football Associations to license Agents from their own country – “it shall no more be known as ‘FIFA Licensed Player Agent’ rather ‘Player Agent Licensed by Nigeria Football Federation,' in the case of Agents from Nigeria.

Last year, I think, FIFA came up with a new regulation to replace Agents with what it called ‘Intermediary.’ Trying to deregulate as well as control the excesses of the player representation process.  

With effect from today, 1st April 2015, any natural or legal person (i.e. including a company) can act as an Intermediary and represent football players or clubs in contract or transfer negotiations; he doesn’t need license.

However, National Associations must register Intermediaries involved in transactions. It must be satisfied that the Intermediary has an “impeccable reputation” and not a conflict of interest. 

FIFA Licensed Player Agent: Emelogu Obinna

In order to be so satisfied they just need to have a form signed by the Intermediary certifying that he has not had a criminal record imposed upon him for “financial or violent crime”, he has no relationship with other associations that give him a conflict of interest, and he shall abide by the Regulations and the other various relevant rules.

Well, it is FIFA’s April fool to make you think that Licensed Agents are gone forever. For me, they only changed their designation. As long as FIFA could not sweep the functions of Agents under the carpet, then Agents are very much alive. We all know how vital it is for a player to have a representation in contract negotiations. Of course, the knowledge, skills and experience of Licensed Agents cannot be thrown overboard.

It may look like player representation will be for all comers, but it would still be the experienced Agents that will go on to wear the clothing of Intermediaries; I don’t see the difference any way. All they need do is to remodel their business to accommodate the new regulations or what do you think.

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