FIFA, global soccer’s governing body, has lost a ruling in London against its Fifa Football Agent Regulations (FFAR) plans to regulate soccer player agents and cap the fees and commissions they earn.
The ruling was lost to a group of agents and firms representing players – namely CAA Base, Wasserman, Stellar, and ARETÉ – leaving the regulation plans in doubt, with similar cases being fought across Europe.
This includes in Germany and Spain, where the FFAR has also been successfully blocked. Fifa did, however, win a ruling in July at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne, Switzerland.
The proposed regulations include a cap on the size of an agent’s fee from any transfer and a restriction on the frequency of payments received by any agent.
FIFA had wanted to cap agent earnings at a maximum of 10% of transfer fees when they acted for the selling club, as well as enacting a limit of taking 3% of a player's salary when earnings are more than $200,000 per year, or 5% when the player earns up to $200,000.
The governing body also planned to prohibit agents representing both the buying and selling clubs in a transfer (essentially, representing all parties), as well as ensuring all fees would be paid through FIFA's Paris-based financial clearing house.
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The European Football Agents Association said in a statement: “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 (tribunal) 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.”
English soccer’s Football Association (FA) responded to the ruling with their own statement which said: “The FA Tribunal issued its award following the conclusion of proceedings, which declared that if the FA implements the Fee Cap and the Pro Rata Payment Rules in the NFAR, it will be in breach of the Competition Act 1988.
“The FA is considering the implications of the decision and will provide a further update as soon as it is able.”
This means that if the FA proceeds with the cap and pro rata rules then they would be in breach of UK competition law.
It has been reported in UK media that FIFA will now consider an appeal – the body has previously claimed that the agent industry earned over $600 million in commission from player transfers last year.
Last week, FIFA opened two tender processes in sub-Saharan Africa covering media rights to its next two World Cups.
One process covers rights to the 2026 men’s FIFA World Cup, to take place in Mexico, the US, and Canada, and the other concerns rights for the women’s edition (WWC) in 2027 (host/s as yet unallocated).