Not FFAR enough - football agents secure a favourable decision against FIFA


Given recent uncertainty surrounding FIFA’s attempt to enforce specific parts of the National Football Agent Regulations (NFAR) in England, covered in our previous piece here, football agents in England have secured a partial victory in their ongoing legal battle to stem the tide.

 An  Arbitration panel has determined that at least two aspects of the regulations violate competition law in England. The most significant issue revolves around the proposed cap on fees. As a result, the decision prohibits the FA from enforcing these specific parts of NFAR. 

The FA faces a crucial decision. Will they promptly revise and implement NFAR in a manner that complies with the law, or will they temporarily halt NFAR altogether, considering the growing complexity of the situation, and pass the matter back to FIFA for resolution, given that the present predicament is largely a consequence of issues arising from its own rulebook? 

FIFA is already entangled in legal disputes in various countries and has faced a similar setback in Germany. This latest defeat may in turn prompt FIFA to reassess its own stance. Although the detailed decision is yet to be published, it appears that the panel found issues with both the cap on service fees and the restriction on payments being made quarterly, deeming them incompatible with English competition law. 

All eyes are therefore on both the FA and FIFA in anticipation of their next moves. Will the FA introduce a modified version of NFAR without service fee caps or payment schedule restrictions, or will they temporarily suspend NFAR, retaining the existing intermediaries system, while FIFA reevaluates its approach?

FIFA may seek to downplay this as yet another and relatively minor development in the ongoing and wider FFAR implementation saga. However, given that England represents the world’s largest football market financially, and considering FIFA's challenges in other countries, its inability to enforce the service fee cap in England may necessitate a reevaluation of strategy.

The practical implications for agents and intermediaries remain uncertain until the decision is thoroughly analysed. Nonetheless, the headline news is clear – FIFA's service fee cap will not be enforced in England pending further developments. 

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