Are football agents fair or foul?


Harare – For some, the role of football agents has grown increasingly fundamental to soccer and the value of their importance helps to make the sport the multi-million-dollar industry it is across the world today.

For others, football agents are unnecessary commodities that suck millions of dollars out of the game each year at the expense of the sport that relies on them to keep the system working efficiently.

This leaves soccer lovers with many questions like: “Are football agents fair or foul? Are they contributing to the development of soccer in the world? Are FIFA football agents adding any value or confusion to our football?

Since the turn of the millennium, there had been an increase in FIFA licensed agents across the globe and this has triggered the above questions.

Football agent Jonathan Barnett believes that agents add value to the development of soccer.

Barnett, who works with some of the biggest names in the English league says: “We look after every aspect of players’ careers – from their marketing to the personal side. The most important thing for us is that footballers can just concentrate on playing.”

This means agents are actually part of modern football. Thus, Barnett adds, “It is not always just about money – it is also about protecting the interests of players; it is about the progression of the player.”

A relationship between an agent and a client starts when a footballer’s career officially begins. The former becomes an official representative of the player ahead of parents, coaches, or guardians in all off the field matters.

What it means is that depending on players’ careers, agents sort out their sponsorships, contracts and public relations.

They also handle transfers as well decide how players invest any excessive amounts of money they may earn among an extensive list of responsibilities.

Apply some common logic and it becomes evident that the more successful the player is, the more valuable he becomes as a client to the agent.

So how do agents earn their wage?

Agents are entitled to a commission of any kind of earnings, endorsements, or contract negations and, depending on an agent’s ability to select a talented and capable player they can represent, their business can become extremely profitable.

This simultaneously is the same reason why they are envied and criticised by many, as they have the capacity to earn millions of pounds after one day’s work ‑ depending on what happens to their player on the pitch.

Agents are, therefore, viewed as enemies of football, as people view them as dirty. Underhand deals, exaggerating the value of players and inflating a transfer market that oppresses the financial capabilities of small clubs work against football agents. Because of these factors, people will always continue to be sceptical of agents.

However, it is important to understand that a large part of football, and any other sport for that matter, would be chaos without agents. This is so because agents act and perform their duties under the watchful eye of FIFA and all other corresponding authorities.

Without the strict infrastructure they apply, players would be extremely vulnerable and so would the market they operate in. The power of football agents comes from their ability to understand their market and act accordingly.

They may have their critics but on a daily basis, they perform complex and crucial operations that keep the game on the surface running smoothly.

November 2013
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