Uefa is poised to introduce new rules to tackle urgently what it sees as the scourge of third-party ownership of players in Europe as early as next season. Transgressors ultimately face the possibility of transfer bans or having players excluded from the Champions League.
A Guardian investigation on Monday revealed that Jorge Mendes, regarded as the most powerful football agent in Europe, is serially involved in third-party ownership and Uefa, increasingly frustrated by Fifa’s inaction on the issue despite repeated vows to tackle the problem, is now drawing up new rules that could be introduced for its next three-year cycle of competition from 2015-16.
As with the introduction of its financial fair play, there would be a transition period to allow clubs to comply with the new rules but the aim would be to clamp down on third-party ownership among clubs competing in the Champions League or Europa League.
Now, the Uefa general secretary, Gianni Infantino, has told the Guardian that if Fifa fails to act then Uefa will take its own steps.
“It threatens the integrity of sporting competition, it damages contractual stability, it undermines the relationship of trust that should exist between a player and the club that employs him, it creates conflicts of interests, it means that players have less control over the development of their own careers, it keeps clubs in a vicious cycle of debt and dependence and damages the overall image of football,” he said.
“Furthermore, there is little doubt that third-party investors do influence the transfer policies of clubs even though Fifa rules expressly forbid this. These are actually the findings of Fifa’s own – detailed – research into this subject. So, it’s now time to act, and if Fifa does not address the problem, then Uefa will.”
One key concern is the possibility that agents may increasingly have stakes in players they also represent – even though that is against Fifa rules – creating a potential conflict of interest.