FIFAs Agent Working Group - right thing, right place, wrong time?

1st March 2023

In February (2023), FIFA announced the establishment of its new Agent Working Group (AWG), and in ‘essence I applaud this step, and agree with the ‘supposed’ purpose and intention – that the AWG “will act as a permanent consultative body in relation to football agent matters, including the practical implementation of the new framework, as well as possible future amendments or changes to the FFA”.


In fact, for many years, since approx. 2013, I have argued for such groups and forums to be established, at both national and international level. Yet, as is the case with the new FIFA Football Agent Regulations (FFAR); whilst I agree with the seeming intention, I do have concerns about the implementation of the AWG by FIFA.


Now, whilst some may take this article as an indication that I am someone who is disgruntled at being excluded from the agent working group, and thus ‘spitting’ the proverbial ‘dummy’ out, that is an assumption that people are free to make. Some people have asked why I wasn’t part of the AWG, or whether I am indeed disgruntled at being excluded, and in all honesty that is not a question I can answer with 100% certainty.

Why Can’t I Answer a Seemingly Simple and Binary Question?

The reason as to why I cannot answer that question are numerous and somewhat varied; not least the matter that I was never asked, something which I totally accept and understand from FIFAs perspective, as not least because of my open, but I believe justified, criticism of FIFA in the process on some matters including the new FFAR.


Other reasons for not being able to answer and being ‘conflicted’ in providing such an answer, include:

Committing many hours over 2-3 years trying to be helpful, pragmatic and objective with FIFA in the introduction, development and implementation of new regulations (FFAR), as well as many years before trying to encourage improvement of professional ethical standards across the football agent industry. It would be disingenuous of me to say that “I no longer have any interest in seeing improvements in the industry” (for which we are told is the aim of the AWG), because I categorically do. I would like to continue to be part of the process through such bodies and consultations in the support, reform and improvement of the industry, for ALL affected by it.

I have chosen to remain somewhat neutral in regards to the various parties engaged in the ongoing debate, arguments and dispute (e.g. FIFA, agent groups) over the FFAR since 2018, when first mention of the reintroduction of football agent regulations was announced. The seeming political games, spreading of misinformation, mudslinging and threats (legal) have done no-one any favours over the last few years in addressing problems, concerns and fears both shared and individual between the various parties involved.


Whilst I can draw some alignment and agreement with the several groups and organisations (including FIFA) on some of the issues, concerns and complaints; there is seemingly no one association or group with whom I have a close enough alignment to allow me to ‘nail my colours to their mast’ and support their cause fully. Then again, many who know me (or know of me) may say I like being (and suit the role) a maverick participant, if not hopefully an independent ‘voice of reason and sense’.

Whilst I am still committed to the process of improvement and indeed encourage many of the spoken intentions of FIFA with the new regulations, I have serious concerns not only about the new FIFA Football Agent Regulations, but also in the way FIFA have managed the process and the implementation. As such, that would discourage me from being part of the FIFA AWG under the current circumstances.

As is the title of this article; I believe the AWG may well be a case of ‘the right thing, at the right place, at the wrong time’ – which I believe will lead to a devaluing of the AWG and subsequently the role I believe it was (should be) aimed at fulfilling and FIFAs proclaimed intention that:

(the AWG) “will act as a permanent consultative body in relation to football agent matters, including the practical implementation of the new framework, as well as possible future amendments or changes to the FFAR”

Right Thing?

There is no doubt in my mind that there needs to be a truly representative group/panel/forum of agents representing the interest of agents, and having a say on international football agent matters at the highest level of football governance (i.e. currently FIFA), and this has been desperately needed in football for some time.

In fact, I covered this exact subject in an article last year : ‘Why haven’t football agents got a credible and legitimate voice as a football stakeholder?’, and as the article expresses, whilst some of the blame lies at the door of FIFA and various football governance bodies, national associations and key stakeholders in not helping to establish such a group, the blame should also ‘lie at the door’ of agents/intermediaries in not playing their part, and possibly grasping the opportunity that presented itself in 2015.

Right Place?

Whilst many would argue the legitimacy of FIFA in regulating agents; whether this be based on potential for ‘conflicts of interest’, monopolies, past-regime indiscretions and also personal grudges – some of these are areas for discussion by people far more informed than myself on such matters and I will defer to their better judgement.


Yet, no other football body (as far as I am aware) has taken steps to involve agents at any meaningful level on agent related matters including regulation, and as such the AWG in its ‘purest form’ should be encouraged as a progressive step.


Whilst the likes of The FA (in England) have had limited engagement with agents and intermediaries, many see this as a ‘box ticking’ exercise for the FA, and this perspective is something that I would largely have to agree with. This is not only based on the fact that I have heard numerous FA officials (on numerous occasions) tell me and others that agents & intermediaries are not considered ‘stakeholders’ (despite paying fees to the FA, being governed by them and affected by the associations actions and decisions) but merely participants; which I would argue even on the most basic ‘governance’ principles to be incorrect.


Added to this, over the many years the likes of the FA have shown little appetite to constructively engage with the agent community (with the exception of verbal encouragement, a few platitudes and a clandestine and unrepresentative ‘agent panel’ at one point) and definitely not to the extent of anything such as a representative agent working group.

Wrong Time (Timing)?

Now onto the main concerns I have over the FIFA AWG, and this is centred around the implementation and time-line for the implementation of the AWG.


As you should have already gathered, the overall ‘concept’ of the FIFA AWG is something I agree with and encourage, and it is an integral part of the FFAR (2023), however I believe it is very badly timed.


In fact, I would argue it is 4-5 years late and should have been part of the initial consultation and a predecessor in the development process for the new FFAR, let alone the actual approval of the new FFAR. Involving a representative agent group from an early ‘framework’ development stage of the FFAR, almost certainly would have staved off much of the conjecture, accusations and criticism of inadequate ‘consultation’ and not least the various legal challenges to the regulations.


Subsequently (and sadly), FIFA I believe lost an opportunity with the timing of the AWG. Arguably they negated the possible involvement of a lot of knowledge, experience, influence and vision from those within the agent community by not consulting as well as they could have at an early enough stage in the development of new regulations for football agents. In fact, some of those minds and voices are now sadly what I consider to be pretty ‘hardline’ against most, if not all facets of the FFAR, and are somewhat aligned in vehemently challenging both FIFA and the regulations (including the AWG) through various courts and dispute mechanisms around the world.

Wrong Way? - (Questionable Implementation)

Now, I must point out at this stage that I have no ‘axe to grind’, personal objection to, reservations about or mistrust of those (well most) who were announced as members of the AWG.


Some of them I know personally, some I know professionally, some I know by name, and some I have never heard of; but that doesn’t undermine their reputation, standing, ethics or qualifications (professional and personal) to be part of the AWG.


However, I believe they have a tough task ahead of them and arguably they have accepted a role that many would have been very reluctant to accept (given the circumstances), and I wish them the best of luck in representing the football agent community fairly, effectively and responsibly.


Yet I do need to play ‘devils advocate’ once again and ask questions that remain unclear as to the composition and implementation of the AWG by FIFA, if only to help establish how legitimate it is, how effective it will be and also highlight criticism that some may make (fairly or unfairly), if only to undermine the AWG or its purpose.


It should already be clear by reading this article, that I think in terms of timing, I believe that FIFA have made a huge mistake with the implementation of the AWG, but added to this there is no clear declaration as to how the AWG was structured or how appointments were made, so in a way any judgement on this from myself would be unfair. Yet in the interests of ‘transparency’ it is only right that it is clear as to:

what were the criteria for appointment/selection of AWG members?

is the AWG truly representative of agents (i.e. elected by agents/intermediaries, countries/regions represented)?

is the representation balanced (e.g. ratio : are African agents under-represented in number, are European agents over represented)?

are the AWG agent members adequately qualified and experienced?
(not least, as some are not ‘legacy’ agents, what will happen if they fail the new exam and thus aren’t able to be licensed)

why are some non-agent groups represented equally and some not (e.g. leagues, club/league associations)?

…… these are just a few questions that may be asked in regards to the implementation of the AWG. Not least as without clarity on such matters from FIFA, the AWG may draw criticism (if not ridicule) in both the long and short term, should transparency on such matters not be evident from FIFA.

Still Asking the Question?

If you are still asking the question as to whether I would have accepted the invitation to be part of FIFAs Agent Working Group (should it have been made), and I had to give an answer, I would have to say the answer would be No, at least not under the current circumstances.


I want the AWG (or any such similar grouping) to be a success, a true representative body for ALL agents and be a force for good in football as a whole (including agents, players, clubs, associations and FIFA,) however I fear this ‘ship is holed below the waterline’, even before it has ‘set sail on its maiden voyage’, not least in terms of timing and also possibly questionable implementation.