Football agents land major victory over Fifa after commission cap ruling

Fifa will have to go back to the drawing board after UK football agents won an injunction against new regulations

Miguel Delaney
Chief Football Writer
Thursday 30 November 2023 18:15 GMT
Declan Rice and Moises Caicedo both moved for over £100m this summer
Declan Rice and Moises Caicedo both moved for over £100m this summer (Getty Images)

Football agents in the United Kingdom have won a ruling against Fifa over the application of new regulations that would have placed a cap on the commissions they receive for transfers.

Fifa had been pushed by numerous authorities to act on agent fees, including the European Commission and Council of Europe, to go with their own concerns about how the business was destabilising the transfer market and increasing financial disparity in football.

A number of reforms had been proposed from this, from the establishment of a Fifa Clearing House to the more widely accepted licensing exam, but by far the most controversial for agents was a mandatory service fee cap.

The legal argument from agents was that this represented Fifa stepping outside their role of regulating the game, and that it also misunderstood the agency business given how such fees cover everyday support of players as well as the many that do not have the same commercial income as stars.

The position was that this would actually end up favouring the mega-agencies that Fifa had been attempting to limit, and could potentially put many independents or smaller companies out of business.

After the ruling, a statement from The European Football Agents Association said: 'Today we heard the results of the English football agents case in the FA Rule K arbitration proceedings.

'We are happy to hear that the court has sided with the agents and blocked the implementation of the FFAR. As our English friends so aptly put, these regulations were an attempt at using a sledgehammer to crack a nut—far overreaching and overstepping, beyond legitimate cause.

'With the biggest market now free of the FFAR’s governance, we see that 4 of the Big Five are free from the FIFA-imposed cap, with only Italy’s status to be determined as we await the new set of federation rules.

'We celebrate with our English friends and are happy to have assisted in this monumental case. We will continue supporting all countries in their fight against the FFAR and for a more fair, transparent, and uniform regulatory system that truly represents agents worldwide.'

The UK agents, who had joined forces appealing the new reforms, have now won an arbitral award that is almost certain to cause the global body to go back to the drawing board. The award essentially says that if the Football Association proceeds with the cap and pro rata rules then they would be in breach of UK competition law.

The ruling also ensures that four of the five major leagues have similar restrictions in place, with the UK following Spain, Germany and France, and the system simply cannot work the same way when so many of the main drivers of the transfer market have to be exceptions to Fifa's rules.

Sources close to the situation say Fifa will look into grounds for an appeal but that is more narrow when challenging an arbitral award. Cases can be brought, however, when errors of law are made.

Service fees to agents for international transfers smashed throught the £400m record last summer after a window that has saw a huge escalation in activity. Fees paid to intermediaries has risen by over 400 per cent over the last decade.

The Independent has contacted Fifa for comment

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in