Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Reflecting on FIFAs First New Football Agent Exam

Part Two : The 'Fall Out' and Misinformation

22nd April 2023

Originally, this article was intended to be relatively brief, but as with a lot of my musings and reflections on football related matters, once I start to scratch away at an often ‘dirty’ and ‘defaced’ surface it uncovers many other things that need to be analysed and considered further.

Part One – ‘Looking at whether the new FIFA Football Agents exam was Unfairly Hard or Justifiably Testing‘ was prompted by the comments and criticisms heard, read and presented by candidates after sitting the first exam (20th April 2023). Yet whether I believed such comments were misguided, justified or purely whinging and whining, there are other contributing factors at play here and considerable fall-out that may affect many candidates who may fail the first exam.

Media Attention Hasn’t Helped

This is one thing that really ‘gets my goat’ – the attention of the media to the FIFA football agents exam has been comparatively extreme and exaggerated when they have largely ignored the development process (approximately 5-6 years) that has ultimately led to this exam, as well as the concerns and disputes that have existed over the new FFAR (FIFA Football Agent Regulations) for the last 2+ years, and continue to do so.

This is in addition to the lack of attention the media as a whole gave to the old FIFA regime in the run up to 2015 when the old agents license and agent regulations were ‘abandoned’ by FIFA.


In addition to this, the coverage by some of the media over the FIFA Agents exam, has rather unsurprisingly been misleading if not totally incorrect, as such I have addressed:

‘But the test does not make allowances for good agents who perhaps don’t have the academic experience to pass this sort of paper, which is very complicated and not particularly relevant to the day-to-day workings of an agent.

ILL-INFORMED: Arguably agents advise and manage situations where there is a huge amount of responsibility that affects people’s lives, livelihood and welfare. As such is it reasonable to make allowances for those who don’t have ‘academic experience’ in a role where specific knowledge is necessary?

I accept that for those with learning difficulties, allowances may be made in terms of additional time or the facilitation of an audible exam (or similar assistance), but to rule out the viability of a professional exam on competence and knowledge of regulatory matters is misguided. Should the same exception be made for lawyers, bank managers, financial advisers?

The one-hour exam costs £300 to sit.

MISLEADING: Candidates can sit the exam in any country they wish, it is the national Football Association in that territory that set the fee to sit the exam (which FIFA specify is to be reasonable to cover only the costs of hosting the exam).

Whilst the English FA set their exam fee at approximately £300, other national associations either set it far higher, or far lower (some free of charge).

One way around this is for parents to register as a ‘consultant’ with an agency.

This is of course possible, however parents registered as consultants with an agency are to have no involvement in agency activity, and this is clear in the new regulations.

Also other agents for the agency will be held responsible for any agent related activities undertaken by employees of the agency who are not licensed.

the ‘find’ function shortcut (cheat)

Although several media outlets have lazily jumped on the fact that the find function (ctrl-F) is a shortcut’ or even a way to cheat the exam, this is far from the truth. It may end up wasting time for the candidates and be a distraction that does not actually help.

In addition to this, given the conditions in which the exams seem to be held there are more helpful (and well known) tools to assist subterfuge in possibly cheating the exam – which I won’t reveal at this time. 

Those who fail the test can also remain employed by their agencies in a consultant capacity

see my earlier comment about parents as agency consultants

but sources say they could become a burden to employers, given the need for licensed colleagues to accompany them on agency matters.

MIS-INFORMED – this is a far more complex scenario than it sounds, as it is impacted by several elements, such as : (i) the challenge to the capping of agents fees, (ii) how well regulations are enforced in the future (iii) legality of existing contracts after October 2023.

A document made available to agents by Fifa to assist with their studies, called the “Fifa Football Agent Exam Study Materials”, is a staggering 528 pages long.

– Roughly the same amount of revision materials (if not more, e.g. including national regulations – see this clip from long standing agent @Nick Robinson) had to be revised in the exam pre-2015, for which the exam was not ‘open book’.

Also, the revision materials pre-2015 weren’t readily provided by FIFA to candidates as one convenient download. Candidates were given a list of materials they had to source and then ensure they had the most up to date version before the exam.

Clubs will be unable to deal with intermediaries who have not passed and face punishment if they do so.

This regulation (or similar) was in place pre-2015, and a something similar for registered intermediaries post 2015. As such it remains to be seen whether FIFA or the national FAs will demonstrate the willing or means to enforce such regulations, as it is arguable that they have meaningfully demonstrated this previously against both players and clubs using ‘unregulated’ agents/intermediaries.

It is anticipated that many players’ parents who have represented their sons in recent years will not be taking the exam, or could struggle to pass it., especially as family members can become emotional during negotiations.

This is arguably beneficial for both player and family members, as a good parent does not necessarily make a good agent for the player, when objective decisions are required, emotions can be swayed towards ill-informed subjective decisions.

Not to mention cases whereby the relationship between player and family member has been damaged (if not broken down completely) due to the conflict in the family members dual-role as the players agent.

Some Candidates Have Spent (if not wasted) Considerable Sums for Help in Passing the FIFA Football Agents Exam

It is no surprise that since the announcement of the new Football Agents Exam a number of providers have ‘popped up’ to offer training, mentoring and study materials to prepare candidates for the exam. I have been approached myself to compose materials, write questions and help people prepare for the exam, something I have largely refused as I don’t think it fair to claim I can predict what FIFA will ask, or the form in which they will write it.

Whilst it is probably unfair of me to cast aspersions on these provisions to assist candidates in passing the Football Agents Exam, it is quite apparent that some border on opportunism if not profiteering; with prices varying between a few hundred pounds to several thousand, and from personalised tuition through to mock exams offered online.

My own personal view (if not basic advice) on preparing for the FIFA Football Agents exam is that every candidate is different and it is a matter of picking the right resource that suits and this is often more in how they approach the exam than what they know. I think it more a matter of the right help for the candidate.

The general advice I have given to people who have asked, is in four main parts: 

In my opinion there was no ‘magic bullet‘ (or course) for passing the exam pre-2015, and there is no ‘magic bullet‘ for passing the football agents exam now. In fact, for passing the FIFA Football Agents Exam, I would say the best preparation for any candidate is sitting the FIFA Football Agents exam.  

“It was a Shambles with Technical Problems”

One comment many of us often hear made in our daily lives is “don’t you just love technology, its great ……….. WHEN IT WORKS!”, and I am sorry to say football is not immune to such issues. Hence given that this is FIFAs first foray into the realms of a computer-based exam for the new FIFA Football Agents License, it would be rather unfair to blame them solely for IT issues (which some exam candidates and others have done).

“Considering how bad the system was to start the exam”

From the reports I have seen and heard from around the world, it seemed, rather predictably, that those national associations with fewer candidates sitting the exam (tens) tended to have few IT problems, whereas those with a larger number of candidates were more susceptible to IT issues that caused such things as delayed starts. However, we would hope that for subsequent FIFA Football Agent Exams, both FIFA and the national association hosts will be better prepared (particularly those who have reportedly charged excessive exam fees). 

“I thought as it is automated you would get the results immediately”

Now I am only guessing here that the reason why FIFA have not allowed for the system to automatically inform candidates of their score, or whether they have passed or failed, is to take into account matters such reported breaches of exam conditions that may be reported after the exam and not to cause inadvertent outcomes at the venues for the host National FA’s to deal with.

The other reason why I can totally accept why FIFA have not automated the notification of results immediately, is somewhat covered by this article. The reaction to a tough exam is seemingly bad enough from some candidates and as such how would they react at the venue if they were told they had failed there and then, especially when a few around them have passed.

Passing at the Second Attempt is Not a Bad Thing

Probably the one encouraging thing I have heard coming from some candidates is an attitude that they have a second opportunity to sit the exam in September.

I would say that passing the Football Agents Exam at the second attempt is best, after all that is what I did, and I hasten to add many other long-standing agents didn’t pass first time around.

The reason I don’t say I failed the exam now, isn’t some life coach positive thinking ‘mumbo-jumbo’, but in reflecting back. Not passing was actually a benefit, in that it gave me a kick up the backside to prepare better and work harder, whilst also giving me an understanding of what to expect the second time around.

In addition to this, and actually passing the exam, it gave me a greater understanding of the regulations, a better understanding of the footballing landscape and prepared me as a better professional for an industry where professionalism often goes AWOL ……. when people recognise that professionalism it is largely respected.

In Summary

I won’t say that the new FIFA football agents exam is faultless. In fact, I have quite considerable concerns about the exam in terms of its format, vulnerabilities to subterfuge, consistency and quality in how it is invigilated and also its structure and content.

However, what I will categorically stand by is that it is a step in the right direction to sort out the mess that was created following the changes implemented by FIFA in 2015, with the introduction of the RWWI (Regulations on Working With Intermediaries). Yes, there is a long way to go, but something had to be done and FIFA have reintroduced something that is needed, and with each exam I firmly believe FIFA will refine things for the better – this was the first exam, and with anything new there will be ‘creases to iron out’.