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FIFA’s new Football Agent Regulations, which include within them the rule that all transfers should go through Fifa’s own bank, has been ruled illegal, as reported in the German media.
An injunction by a court in Germany has already stopped the new regulation being implemented, and within that ruling is the clear implication that Fifa is not a state, and the Court for Arbitration in Sport is not equal to other transnational courts, and so cannot lay down rules in terms of how organisations in nation states must behave.
Indeed, the German court argues that EU law finds that this whole approach of Fifa in setting itself up as being the equivalent of a country, with its own laws that others cannot touch, is not lawful.
This effectively means any organisation operating out of Germany is not bound to abide by FFAR (Fifa’s new football agent regulations) and indeed other FIFA rules. It is of course possible that the German football association (DFB) could appeal to a higher court, but since the DFB is short of money that may well not happen.
What’s more a fine has been imposed on the German football association by the Dortmund Regional Court – and that contains a highly symbolic message which says once and for all, football, Uefa and Fifa are not above the law of individual nation states. They are not the equivalent to other nation states.
Now this will have quite an impact in Germany since the German Football Association (DFB) has for many years acted as if it is above the law – exactly as the Football Association in England has done. We may recall that for years the FA ran the “Charity Shield” but failed to abide by the basic Charities Act and was roundly reprimanded for so doing.
The FA was fined in that case, and stopped using the name Charity Shield. But in Germany they have gone much further, for the League has been told that it does not have the quasi-governmental special status it has claimed for decades, just because it runs football. Football, the court has said, is not above the law, and here is a 150,000 euros fine to prove it. Which is frustrating for the DFB because it is already in debt.
Last May, the Dortmund Regional Court ruled in favour of the agents in a legal dispute over a set of new (and actually rather tough) restrictions on the way player agents could act, thus overriding Fifa’s new approach to controlling agents.
Now, the court found that the German Football Association implemented these requirements incorrectly and, indeed, had probably not even understood them properly in key areas. In fact the DFB had informed its clubs that the court’s ruling only affected contracts concluded under German law with players, coaches or clubs based in Germany.
The judicial review in Germany ruled that this was not correct. The prohibition of the implementation of the FFAR football agent regulation extends to any German participation. The new ruling says everything depends on the “market place” in which an agent is based, not on the question where the traders are based, or according to which national law they draw up contracts.
So if an international players’ agency opens an office in Germany, it can do so handling transfers involving players in Spain, England or anywhere else – without the need to abide by the new Fifa rules – which include using the new Fifa bank, and other costly activities.
Now the DFB, probably like most football associations, generally acts as if Fifa is the almighty god of football and its words are always law. So going against Fifa is not what football associations normally do. Instead, associations go along with Fifa’s word always, in the hope that in return their senior men (they are almost all men) will get a place on some highly lucrative Fifa committee, with all the free first-class air travel that implies. And that’s before we think of the salaries and expenses dished out.
Indeed if you have been with Untold for a long time you might recall how we reported back in 2015 on Switzerland taking more interest in Fifa. Fifa was subsequently raided and arrests were made. Sine then we have suggested Fifa could really be on the way out.
Well this brings the final battle closed. Gianni Infantino, is enormously displeased. He made it clear that his crusade was to take control all transfer business – worth around £6bn annually – all of it going through his new bank.
But this is also at long last the Battle of the Courts, which some have been wanting to see since the case of Uefa against Manchester City FC was thrown out by the Court of Arbitration in Sport on the ground that it was out of time.
The CAS is the supreme sporting court, and it is based in Switzerland and operates in secret, and has long been seen, by many, as a court validated by the Swiss state, which of course it is not. It just has its HQ in Switzerland as does Fifa.
Some argue that Infantino is trying to use this model to install Fifa as a legitimate state as well – based in Switzerland but outside Swiss law. An independent country equal in rank to France, Germany and the rest with its own laws, and the right to issue its own laws.
Fifa has got away with that for a long time.
But German courts really don’t like the strong-arm tactics of dubious sports potentates. And this could now get really exciting, as a glance across the border reveals. For in Switzerland, the judiciary is often subservient when it comes to Fifa. It is inconceivable that this judiciary will ever pass a sentence against the captains of those world sports federations that previously were lured to Switzerland, (the promised banking paradise), by the Swiss politicians
Right now, the Swiss judiciary is working on closing another investigation against Infantino. Indeed last time around the attack on Fifa’s corruption that Untold alone in the UK foretold, was carried out by the Americans who flew in to arrest people accused of crimes.
It is therefore all the more important that a more credible judiciary elsewhere recognizes how a sports federation is trying to seize a global asset that does not belong to it. Which is why, along with Fifa, its national agents must also be stopped. Especially when they sit in the DFB.
So in essence, a German court has ruled that any player agency from Germany is not bound to follow ANY Fifa rules about new transfer policy… The action of the Dortmund Regional Court against the DFB is a remarkable signal: You, friends of football, are not above the law in this country either. And by the way, Gianni Infantino, take note. You are not immune either.
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