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4 Common Issues of Dispute Between Football Players And their Agents [Find Here The Legal Interpretations]

There's usually a feeling of untrustworthiness surrounding the work of Intermediaries/Agents. People generally believed Agents are "Shylocks" and players should not rely on their promises.

The intricacies of the football market; the uncertainty of delivery and the high expendure required in most cases to transfer a player from one country's football association to another,  has often than not brewed several kind of disputes between players and their agents.

Some players believed their agents are extorting money from them by trick and they get very greedy in terms of what percentage commission they are entitled to after all.

Here, we share the four most common disputes between players and their agents.We'll as well look at the legal aspects, the rules and regulations guiding each matter of dispute..

But first you should know where a player or an agent should take the matter of dispute to when he or she feel aggrieved...

Erroneously, players think they can take their case to Fifa, but not so! Fifa Court of Arbitrations doesn't entertain cases between players and their agents. Some country's football association have special courts that handle such cases. Otherwise, the cases are taking to regular courts.

This is the reason players and agents must insist on having a formal and well documented Representation (Mandate) Agreement, which clearly define terms that bind the two parties to a legal relationship within a specified Jurisdiction.

1. Should a player pay an agent money before the agent commence his duty? Players feel aggrieved when intermediaries/agents start demanding for money in advance to commence their duty.

It is legal and fairly common that Club and Player (represented by the Intermediary/agent) agree on the Club paying all or part of the Intermediary’s fees and expenses on behalf of the Player. This means Player doesn’t have to pay anything to the Agent.

Contrary to what seems to be the legal stand at first glance, player not paying anything to Agent has different sides to it.

In reality, it doesn't always work that way. There are  lots of expenses incurred in trying to get a Club to agree the player comes for a trial test. Agent's travel to the club, hotel accommodation, meetings, correspondences and internal transportations are all huge expenses.

The question usually is who bears the risk when such a deal fails or when Clubs refuses to pay the bills. The Agent or The Player? To answer the question let us define who is an intermediary/ Agent?

FIFA defines Intermediary/ Agent in the Regulations for Working with Intermediaries as: A natural or legal person who, for a fee or free of charge, represent players and/or clubs in negotiations with a view to concluding an employment contract and/or in negotiations with a view to concluding a transfer agreement.

It is a fact, an Agent may decide to represent a player for free. But the truth remain that an Agent is working on behalf of a Principal (Player). Therefore, according to Agency Law, the principal (Player) is responsible to bear the risk and pay for all expenses incurred by the Agent in carrying out his or her duty on behalf of the Player.

2. Why does some Agents demand very high commission? What is the standard percentage commission an Agent is entitled to?

The matter of the amount of the commission is one of the main points of discrepancy between the different national regulations. It has been vociferously argued against by the Association of Football Agents in England.

The new FIFA Intermediary Regulations recommend a 3% commission fee even when the commissions of 5-10% used to be common practice.

 The standard 10% could be considered fair, but since the new Intermediary Regulations, most of the National Associations have established different cap systems with fees between 3-10%. Some countries have even fixed the commission at 3%. Thus, this affirmation requires the application of the National Association rules.

Again, there are different side to this rule.

a). If a Club is paying the intermediary/ agency fee on behalf of the player,  the power of negotiation between club, player, and intermediary will determine the commission that the Intermediary is able to charge.

In particular, clubs might be keen to pay a higher commission to agent for a player they are interested in...sometime, upto 30% or more, if the club's budget for the player's remunerations isn't that large.

 There’s also a possibility of Clubs looking to pay lower commission for players they are not particularly interested in... Sometime, club may want to go below 5%. Here, the intermediary may opt for player to pay him direct.

b). In case where the Agent has invested so much on the player and has incurred a lot of unrebursed expenses in packaging the player. Here he wears a "Double Cap" as an Agent,  as well as a Venture Capitalist. The Agent will insist the player pay him direct and may take a commission ranging between 50% - 70%, depending on the amount of investment he made on the player so far.

3. What if a third party introduce a player to a club when he already have a running exclusive agreement with another Agent?
There are usually clauses in Representation Mandate Agreement (RMA), which states that "None of Two parties (player and Agent) involved in the AAgreement will enter another agreement that adversely affect the RMA. So in case a third party brings a deal. Agent and player must agree  on how to accommodate the Third Party. If the player run off with the Third Party, then he has breach the first RMA and liable to litigation.

RMA should provide one or two clauses that clearly states what happens when a third party come up with a deal. Most time, the Third Party may not want to recognize the first Agent simce he is the one pursuing the deal...he may want to dictate the tune and receive the lion share of the Agency fee.

Because of the discrepancies in issues like this, some players refuse to sign exclusive RMA with any Agent. The implication may be more severe as no Agent will be ready to go the extra mile for a player they are freelancing with.

4. What is the standard duration of a Representation  Mandate Agreement  between a Player and his Agent?
I know when an Agent find a real good and outstanding player he may want to keep the player for longer period of time. Such player could become his cashcow and so he would want him to stay on and be dropping cash for a long time.

The Agent sign a so-called Representation Mandate Agreement with their clients (Player). This agreement gathers all the different details of the relationship and can last from days to years.

This is a point where again the different national regulations differ . Each of the National Associations is free to establish a maximum duration for the representation agreement. For instance, the Football Association enforces a limit of 2 years and when that time is up, the contract terminates. All parties are then be free to renew if they consider it appropriate.

The contract may state a longer period but if it is contrary to the rules where the contract was signed it can’t be enforceable. So the contract may say 5 years,  but if it is signed under FA’s rules it cannot be enforced .The standard is two years with option to renew for another two years or longer.

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