New FIFA Regulations on Football Agents

28 April 2023 - Sven Wassmer

On 16 December 2022, the FIFA Council approved the new regulations on football agents, representatives and intermediaries, which entered into force on 9 January 2023 with respect to the new agents’ licence. The part regulating the activity of agents will come into force on 1 October 2023.

Sven Wassmer, PhD Abogado & Rechtsanwalt +34 91 319 96 86

This is not FIFA’s first attempt to regulate players’ agents; between 1991 and 2023 several regulations were introduced, including major systemic changes. Having switched in 2015 from basing the rules on the concept of the regulated agent or representative licensed by each federation to that of the mere intermediary, FIFA has opted to return to the concept of agents, this time centrally licensed by FIFA itself.

Regardless of whether the regulations modify the concept of the agent and the system of representation and intermediation itself completely, three new features are worthy of note.

First, FIFA has reintroduced the concept of the licensed agent and established that only licensed agents can provide representation services. Thus clubs, players and others may no longer contract such services from any other person. Unlike the old FIFA regulation on licensed agents (in force until 2015), there are no exemptions from this prohibition for the player’s family members or lawyers, which is questionable to say the least. Apart from other requirements, agents must now pass an exam that FIFA will hold twice a year.

Secondly, FIFA regulates in detail the question of agents’ remuneration and, perhaps more importantly in practice, it imposes caps on their fees. In this regard, the cap for an agent’s fee to be paid by the represented player is 3% of the latter’s remuneration (5% if the annual remuneration is less than USD 200,000), and the limit for the fee to be paid by the buying club is 3% of the player’s remuneration (or 5% if the annual remuneration is less than USD 200,000). Clearly, this is much less than the fees currently being paid; the only cap that reflects the current situation is that placed on the fee payable by the selling club, which is 10% of the transfer fee that it receives.

The third important new feature is that FIFA prohibits the representation of several clients in one transaction by the same agent, except where the player and the buying club are represented in the same transaction. From a legal point of view, this exception may be surprising, as it is precisely in this case that the agent also has to negotiate the salary and conditions of the player at the new club, and a conflict of interest seems quite likely.

Various agents and football associations have announced legal action against the regulations, attacking, among other matters, the fee caps.