FIFA has taken the surprising step of suspending most of its new FIFA Football Agent Regulations (FFAR) for the new year.
The regulations had imposed a number of new obligations and restrictions on agents functioning within the professional footballing system, including new rules for conflict of interest, limits on who they could act for, directions on who would pay them, and perhaps most controversially caps on how much their commissions could be. All of these sections of the new regulations have been indefinitely suspended as well as the requirement to submit all documentation through FIFA via their agent’s platform.
The reason has suspended the vast majority of this new program (it has left the exam and licensing procedures in place) is that it has been slowly losing court and administrative challenges brought against it in a number of countries. After a couple of early victories at the Court of Arbitration for Sport and in Holland, Courts in Germany, England and Spain have found the restrictions unlawful as they are unfair restraint of trade.
FIFA will now hope for a positive ruling at the European Justice, but that will not get them around a ruling from an the English Football Tribunal that has decided that the rules are not compatible with British free trade laws. This is a crucial piece of the puzzle as such a large proportion of agent fees are paid in relation to deals that take place in the EPL. FIFA also realizes that having a patchwork of different rules for different countries will make the issues they have identified around agents worse, not better.
For the time being it looks like FIFA’s attempts to regulate agent fees is on the ropes.