Academic journal article The International Sports Law Journal

France

Academic journal article The International Sports Law Journal

France

Article excerpt

1 Introduction

Sports agents continue to hit the headlines. Whether in the role of agent, manager, intermediary or negotiator, they appear to be an increasingly indispensable accompaniment to the negotiation of sports contracts. Intervening with players, clubs and sometimes coaches as well, the agents, even when they are not being accused of rigging the market or receiving commissions from all sides, are invariably suspected of making easy money.

French sport is growing ever more professional and professional leagues are now responsible for organising championships in disciplines such as football, rugby, handball, volleyball and basketball. It is against this background that the profession of sports agent in France has been made subject to precise regulation since Law No. 2000-627 of 6 July 2000. Though it was argued at the time that it would be impossible to bring in such a law as the problems are different from one discipline to another, the regulations are gradually being applied by the French sports federations.

2 Emergence of the applicable regulations

It was with the designation "sports intermediary" that the profession of sports agent was regulated in France for the first time. Article 15-2, concerning sports intermediaries, was added to Law No. 84-610 of 16 July 1984 by Law No. 92-652 of 13 July 1992:

"No natural person or legal entity may carry on the activity consisting in bringing together, whether occasionally or regularly, for valuable consideration, parties interested in concluding a contract whereby one or more sportsmen agree, for valuable consideration, to take part in one or more sports events, unless such person or entity has first been declared to the administrative authority." (1)

With this text, the legislator sought not only to establish ethical standards in the profession but also to derogate from the ordinary law texts under which placement activity was a state monopoly run by the Agence Nationale Pour 1$$Emploi (ANPE).

Though this system proved relatively ineffective because the controls and requirements were insufficient to put the profession on a solid basis, it represented, nonetheless, a first step.

Meanwhile, certain sports disciplines were introducing their own regulations to govern the activity of agent. For example, the FIFA regulations of 11 December 1995, applicable with effect from 1 January 1996, made it compulsory for players' agents to hold an agent's licence, which was awarded only after an examination to check the technical competence of candidates. In addition, agents were required to satisfy ethical conditions and to satisfy the financial guarantees laid down in the FIFA regulations.

In view of the inadequacy of the system established by the law of 1992 and faced with the growing number of transactions and the amounts at stake, the French legislator intervened again on 6 July 2000 (2) to amend Article 15-2 and thus set in place the arrangements which remain applicable to this day. However, the questions raised by the new legal text resulted in the drawing up of an inquiry report (3), which should be followed during the course of 2006 by a partial amendment of the texts presently applicable.

3 What is a sports agent?

French law currently defines the position of the sports agent as follows:

"Any person carrying on, occasionally or regularly, for valuable consideration, the activity of bringing together parties interested in the conclusion of a contract relating to the carrying on of a remunerated sports activity must hold a sports agent licence." (4)

We see that, between 1992 and 2000, there has been a change in the way the profession is defined. Instead of "sportsmen" and "sporting events", we now have "a contract relating to the remunerated carrying on of a sports activity". So, what exactly does this new definition cover?

3.1 "Any person carrying on": The licence is compulsory not only for a professional agent, but also for a father or brother who might act as agent for a sportsman. …

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