Italy

Article excerpt

1. Introduction.

On to December 2000 FIFA issued new regulations for players' agents, effective the 1 March 2001, which were subsequently amended in 2002. The changes were stimulated by the E.U. Commission's investigation on the compliance of the Regulation with articles 81 and 8z of the Treaty of Rome, which had been prompted by an application of a French citizen. (1)

The FIFA Regulations control both the eligibility to the agent's profession and the performance of the agent's activity. At the same time FIFA has defined agents' duties in a "Code of Conduct", which imposes professional and ethical standards. The new Regulations contain the requirement that the National Associations enact the set of rules described through special national provisions.

The Italian Football Association (FIGC) had already regulated the activity of players' agents (2). When FIGC enacted FIFA Regulations it did not simply translate them in Italian, but rather amended preexisting domestic rules in light of the guidelines set forth at the international level. Apparently deeming Italian Regulations substantially identical to its own, FIFA did not make them the object of specific evaluation and approval. This is particularly unfortunate as in fact there are several provisions of the Italian Regulations, as we shall see, which do not appear entirely compatible with FIFA rules.

Now FIGC is preparing further modifications to the enforced regulation in compliance with the guidelines of the Italian Antitrust Authority (3). The focus of this revision is on the conditions for the exercise of the players' agent profession. This matter is very problematical, so at the moment FIGC is not able to provide a term for the approval of the new set of rules.

2. FIGC Players' Agents Regulations and its scope.

On 22 November 2005 the Italian Football Association issued the Players' Agents Regulations to govern the activity of agents working in a national and international context (article 1, 1st paragraph). The enacting provision does not clearly identify the scope of the regulations, thus it is not sure whether the provision refers to Italian agents or foreign agents, or rather to registered or non-registered agents notwithstanding their nationality, or both. Another provision establishes more properly that "players and clubs can avail themselves of the services of an agent if he has a regular licence issued by FIGC or by an other national football association" (article 3, 1st paragraph). The possession of a licence--obtained anywhere in compliance with FIFA Regulations--appears sufficient to carry on the profession in Italy, although a different conclusion could be authorized by a literal interpretation of the article 5, 1st paragraph, and of the article 13, 1st paragraph, (4) which indicates that a player or a club can only utilise the services of a person enrolled in the FIGC Register of practising agents. This fallacious conclusion would follow from the confusing use of the defined term "Albo", indicating the FIGC Register of licensed agents, in both provisions. Instead we prefer to adopt the meaning of article 3, 1st paragraph, described above, adhering to the principle that, between two possibly conflicting interpretations, the interpreter must choose the one that is valid and enforceable. Therefore, the two references to the FIGC Register should be considered as two references to the register of any national football association. This interpretation is compulsory to bring the Italian rules in line with the international ones and it corresponds to the FIFA's reading and application of the international regulations especially of article 22, par. 1 (Ch. IV Disputes).

Article 22, par. I of FIFA Regulations defines national disputes as those where the parties involved (player, agent or club) are both registered with the same national association. National disputes are submitted to the judicial bodies of the relevant national association. …