Players' Agents Worldwide: Legal Aspects

By Blackshaw, Ian | The International Sports Law Journal, January-April 2008 | Go to article overview

Players' Agents Worldwide: Legal Aspects


Blackshaw, Ian, The International Sports Law Journal


Players' Agents Worldwide: Legal Aspects

Edited by R.C.R. Siekmann, R. Parrish, R. Branco Martins and J.W. Soek, TMC Asser Press, The Hague, The Netherlands 2007, Pages 872 + XXIX, ISBN 978-90-6704-245-1 , Price GBP 95.00

Football is not only the world's favourite game but is also the world's most lucrative sport. They say that 'money is the root of all evil' and football certainly has its share of problems resulting from the mega sums that can be made on and off the field of play. In the United Kingdom, for example, we have now entered the age when many players earn well over 100,000 [pounds sterling] per week in the English FA Premier League. Not only do players command high salaries, but the sale of broadcasting rights brings in stratospheric sums to the Clubs. For example, the English Premier Football League, the richest in the world, recently sold its principal broadcast rights to its matches for the next three seasons, beginning in August 2007 and ending in 2010, for a record sum of US$3.1bn (1.7bn [pounds sterling]). Football Clubs also gain from the mega sums paid for the transfer of high profile players from one club to another. Most of these transfers are handled by players' agents, who themselves have also become multi millionaires in the process. However, players' agents have not been having a good press in recent times and a BBC Panorama Programme has branded football as being 'institutionally corrupt', largely as a result of the activities of players' agents, which, to say the least, have not always been very professional or ethical, for example, in the matter of dual representation. Many of them have been involved in conflicts of interests' situations, for example, acting at the same time for clubs and players or both clubs involved in the same transaction.

This new Book--a truly magnum opus taking a global view of the subject --could not be more timely, dealing, as it does, with three basic questions: what are players' agents?; why should they be regulated?; and how should they be regulated? The Book covers the legal regulations--at the international, national and sports bodies' levels--in forty countries around the world, including the major footballing constituencies, such as Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and Russia, and the socalled 'Big Five' in Europe: France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK.

But, as Professor Roger Blanpain of the Universities of Leuven (Belgium) and Tilburg (The Netherlands), the very first President of FIFPRO, the international professional players' association, points out in a Foreword to the Book, the issue of regulation in any sport "is always a delicate one." And goes on to remark that:

"[o]ver-regulation can do as much harm as under-regulation: it is always a matter of striking the right balance between the two.... [but] it is generally agreed that certain minimum norms and standards of behaviour by players' agents must be met to protect the integrity of football and all those with a stake and interest in its future, including players, clubs and fans alike."

As the Book shows, the levels and nature of regulation of players' agents vary from country to country.

The Book opens with three introductory chapters which help to put the subject into its proper context: 'Regulating Players' Agents: A Global Perspective'; 'The International Supply of Sports Agent Services'; and 'The Laurent Piau Case of the ECJ on the Status of Players' Agents'. …

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