The Dispute Between FIFA and Football Agents Renders Some as Hostages in a Tense Standoff

8th March 2023

To use a very unfortunate analogy, I think that in some ways many football agents and intermediaries (if not also national football associations), may well feel that they are hostages in a tense ‘standoff’ over the new FIFA football agent regulations (FFAR).

The worrying thing is, that it is unclear as to whom is there to free the ‘hostages’ and effectively safeguard their welfare, represent their interests and offer them refuge, safety and some certainty.

Ultimately, it would seem at times over the last 4-5 years that the interests and welfare of the ‘hostages’ is secondary (at best) for the main protagonists engaged in the ‘standoff’.  Subsequently, it is reasonable to make the assumption that should ceasing the standoff result in the ‘hostages’ being mere ‘collateral damage’ that is an acceptable sacrifice to make, as long as the main protagonists in the ‘standoff’ accomplish their own aims and objectives.

Bystanders and Observers at Risk of Becoming Hostages

Another concerning element in this ‘standoff’ is the seeming naivety and/or lack of awareness that is often displayed by some of those who are affected by the ‘standoff’ (either directly or indirectly), but may be considered ‘bystanders’ and ‘observers’.


In this analogy, I refer to other football stakeholders (players, clubs, leagues, associations, managers/coaches) and their own representative groups. Yes, some of these individuals and groups have ‘skin in the game’ to align themselves with one of the disputing groups (but may not realise it), whilst others are just casually looking on to see what the outcome is, ambivalent to the effect that the outcome may have on them.


However, I firmly believe that in idly looking on, paying no attention (i.e. ‘not my problem’) or even being encouraged to support one disputant party or another; they too are at risk of becoming a ‘hostage’ to the situation. Whereas, they should ideally demonstrate and present a clear understanding, appreciation of the situation as well as ensure their view and opinion of the situation is clear and heard for the welfare of themselves, those they represent and also in considering others that are affected.

Re-assurances and Promises - Some of Us Have Heard It All Before

So, back to the perspective of the agents and intermediaries. It is fair to say that many have been ‘kept in the dark’ regards the ongoing situation over the last few years (since 2018), and as such many have had to rely on ‘narratives’ and information (often false) from some with vested interests, speculation through some media outlets and a somewhat limited ‘drip feed’ of information from the football authorities.

For many of those ‘hardened’ and accustomed to the ‘politics’ and ‘games’ surrounding the football agent industry (myself included) who are long standing agents, intermediaries and lawyers; we have heard many of the narratives before, along with the false promises and fake platitudes.


Yet at risk of seeming patronising; we have come to understand that in such a competitive, lucrative and somewhat ‘cut-throat’ industry, we are all potential ‘hostages’, if we aren’t aware of the full situation and act appropriately.


As a ‘hostage’, despite all the promises in the world that are akin to ‘no harm will come to you’, ‘you will be free soon’; your welfare is never guaranteed until you are actually free from the ‘standoff’ and/or in control of your ‘safety’ and wellbeing.


If you aren’t aware of the situation around you, as well as the characteristics and actions of those ‘holding you hostage’ and likely making you promises (often false) to win your favour and support (if only as a number rather than an actual voice), there is a risk of you being used as a ‘human shield’ or even worse being one of the ‘body count’ that is deemed collateral damage by some of those involved the ‘standoff’.

Maximising The Chance of ‘Hostage’ Wellbeing

My advice to anyone involved in this debacle as a potential ‘hostage’, whether as an intermediary/agent or in another football stakeholder role affected by agent activity, is to:

make yourself totally aware of the proposals, the objections and any such resolutions provided by the disputing parties (the last one shouldn’t take long).

look back at the history of agent regulations over the past 15 years to gain some form of understanding and perspective of the situation and how it developed, as well as the key protagonists (groups and individuals) and the roles they played to get us into this predicament.

discuss it with others (not just those in the same football role as yourself) – it is inciteful to learn and understand the concerns, objections and views of others (i.e. other stakeholder groups) on such a topic.

However, the most important and seemingly scarce facet to acknowledge and think about is the position of others affected by this standoff.


We are essentially in this ‘standoff’ because interests aren’t aligned, but a lack of empathy and the failure of various parties to communicate effectively, demonstrate pragmatism and seemingly have any empathy of others; that makes finding that alignment almost impossible.


The fact is that far more people and organisations are affected by this ‘standoff’ (even to be considered ‘hostages’) than just FIFA and the agents. Some (knowingly or naively) are arguably jeopardising the welfare of others to fulfil their own agendas and wants (rather than just their needs).

Who to ‘Trust’ (using the word loosely)

As and when a potential ‘hostage’ has undertaken this consideration, they will no doubt be conflicted as to who maximises the chances of their wellbeing and protects their interests. If there is someone whom the ‘hostage’ can align themselves with and who TRULY represents their best interests; then support them (but you don’t have to tie yourself to them, as sadly some will likely look after themselves first).


If however, like me (at the moment), a hostage cannot truly align themselves with any key party to the dispute, ‘run for safety’, free from being a proverbial ‘hostage’ and become an informed observer. By all means be involved, converse with fellow ‘hostages’ and observers (if only for collective wellbeing), express your concerns/views, propose resolutions (don’t be discouraged if people mock you; in the football world they will, believe me)  ……… but above all else, try to stay out of the ‘firing line’ and don’t resign yourself to being a hostage placing your wellbeing in the hands of others who you don’t really know.

Risk of a Firefight and Undoubted Casualties

At the time of writing, I still have a hope that common sense will prevail with the hostage takers given their fast car, loads of cash and a free run to Acapulco, whilst the rescuers can bask in the glory and the hostages emerge unscathed.


However, I don’t believe that will be the case as things stand in this tense standoff; it is not going to be pretty, there will be casualties (hostages, hostage-takers and observers), the costs will be high and it may not be resolved any time soon.