FIFA Report Details Plan to Remake Soccer’s Transfer Market

FIFA Report Details Plan to Remake Soccer’s Transfer Market

Any proposals, even if they are accepted by FIFA’s board, are unlikely to be adopted soon. The report predicts that it will take as long as two years for the clearinghouse to be set up, and there is no timetable to conclude talks on measures to limit transfer fees.

Changes that may be adopted as soon as this year concern the number of players teams can register to their rosters and limits on the loan system. Some argue that bigger, richer clubs use loans as a way of hoarding talent; others contend that multiple loans to a single club can destabilize competitive balance in smaller leagues.

Rather than an all-out ban on the practice, which had been discussed, FIFA is likely to introduce a cap on the number of incoming and outgoing loans to between six and eight, and a cap on the number of players one team can loan to a single club to three. The measure would affect several major teams across South America and Europe, which have in some cases developed side businesses through the loan of players. The Premier League club Chelsea, for example, has nearly 40 players out on loan.

Some of the FIFA report’s most critical findings were related to the role of player agents, which it described as the central figures in a “plague” of conflicts of interest. In 2017, almost $500 million was paid in fees to agents, a 105 percent increase from 2013. The focus on financial rewards has “allowed a small group of agents to wield influence on players and clubs,” FIFA’s task force said.

Figures like the Portuguese superagent Jorge Mendes, and Mino Raiola, who pocketed more than $50 million after brokering Paul Pogba’s transfer to Manchester United, have become as well known as the players they represent. But at the lower end of the market, there has been a churn of players, too, as some brokers create deals with the sole aim of scoring a commission.

“The current framework promotes financial incentives to prevail over the interest and welfare of vulnerable parties such as players, particularly minors,” the FIFA panel said.

FIFA’s proposals to tame agent behavior include a new global registration system that it would administer; an annual exam similar to one financial advisers are required to take; and a fixed cap on commissions.

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