A new report from FIFA into the dealings of licensed football agents has found that they trousered a combined £380 million in commission this year – taking the tally to nearly £2.7 billion in the past decade.
All of the transfers in FIFA’s database were counted – a tally of nearly 18,000 moves around the world, with 20% of those involving at least one agent.
Clubs in Europe accounted for 95% of the total spend, and of those it was Premier League outfits that led the way with nearly £100 million in agent fees. That’s compared to La Liga clubs, who forked out a measly £25 million in comparison.
Here’s how Europe’s top five leagues fare in the agent fees table:
|Premier League||£100 million|
|Serie A||£55 million|
|La Liga||£25 million|
|Ligue 1||£22 million|
This was the second year in a row that overall transfer spending fell, and while fees were down by a huge 13.9% worldwide, agent commissions actually rose by 0.7% on 2020 levels.
One example cited by FIFA involved a transfer in 2018 involving an unnamed player. He moved from a Ligue 1 club to the Bundesliga for £20 million, with his agent earning a whopping £16 million commission and a slice of his client’s wages – estimated at £14 million over the duration of a five-year contract.
James Kitching, the director of football regulation at FIFA, has confirmed that the governing body is looking into changes to the system.
“There is a drop in transfer fees paid, but when you expect to see a similar drop in agent fees instead we see a slight increase,” he said.
“[One deal] involved an agent payment that was 111.8% fee compared to the total of the player contract. That is why we are looking at abusive and excessive practices.”
The women’s game is also starting to see increasing involvement from agents, with 70 transfer deals this year involving such an intermediary – that’s a rise of 12.9% compared to 2020.
FIFA to Tighten Agent Regulation
Up until now, football agents have gone about their business footloose and fancy-free – with no official legislation in place to govern them.
Now, in a move that is long overdue, FIFA have confirmed their plans to reform the regulatory environment governing the ‘excessive and abusive’ activities of agents.
The authority has revealed they are in the final stages of unveiling the new rules, which look set to include a 10% ‘cap’ on an agent’s earnings relating to the transfer fee involved. There also plans to include a cap of 3% of the player’s wages that an agent can claim for their services.
It’s a move that agents have not taken too kindly to, unsurprisingly, and the likes of Mino Raiola – one of the most prominent figures in agenting – have threatened legal action against FIFA.
Mel Stein, the president of the Association of Football Agents, has also spoken out online against the the authority’s plans.