By Tony Attwood
Now when someone announces that “Fifa will not exist in 10 years’ time,” that person gets my attention. For if you have read Untold over the years you will know of the trials and tribulations of Fifa with Infantino fighting a long court case in Switzerland which also has seen the Swiss chief prosecutor get into real trouble.
Of course none of this is reported in the English media (who do report the Fifa action against its ex-head a certain Mr Blatter, but utterly refuse to deal with its present legal cases).
And indeed Untold has itself predicted that Fifa is entering its end game, not least after its gross incompetence at going ahead with its hilarious general meeting just after Switzerland changed its laws which removed Fifa execs previous right to avoid all prosecution. That story ran on Untold in Switzerland take a greater interest in Fifa – at last. No one in the rest of the British media took any notice until the arrests happened.
But even then the media didn’t learn its lesson and it still carries on just running Fifa press releases rather than taking any notice of events.
What’s cropping up now (alongside the ongoing court cases in Switzerland) is that Mino Raiola, the agent representing Erling Haaland, Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Matthijs de Ligt, is suggesting rather strongly that Fifa’s new regulations for agents is not going to be as straightforward as they would like to think.
Fifa, which has been seen as the most corrupt sporting body in the world, now has the audacity to tell the rest of football it still wants to dictate how everyone else operates, and it is not surprising that others are reacting with distaste and disbelief.
The new arrangements limit agents to taking 10% of the transfer fee. Agents will also have to be licensed, and getting the licence means passing an exam. Anyone who thinks Fifa is capable of running an independent and secure exam system is seeing the world through a different set of lenses from me.
Now, the infinitely corrupt Fifa has a rival, The Football Forum, representing agents and players. It describes itself as beinig “founded as a response to the growing threat to the rights of its members”. It has already taken on Fifa in relation to image rights, and the Football League in relation to salary caps.
So the Football Forum has flexed its muscles and has a power base that Fifa never has: the players. After all, without the players, football is just a bunch of administrators with nothing to administer.
And it is interesting that the Forum stated in one interview with the Guardian that, “if there are smaller countries who need our help to fight Fifa, we will put the money there. We’ll underwrite it all.”
One particularly clever move by the new organisation is that agents can join as observers, without having to pay anything. They will then be able to join in meetings and get all the updates that the organisation issues. It’s a way of getting all the agents into the group.
TFF has also been rather amusing in locating their offices just down the road from Fifa’s HQ (pictured above).
Of course what weakens Fifa’s position is its current ongoing legal case brought by the Swiss government. If they lose that, or any part of that, they are then going to be trying to face down the agents while also losing just about the most important legal case they have been fighting.
As we know, they have successfully persuaded the UK media not to report the current case in the Swiss courts, so that gives the affair an unbalanced look. It is only when one realises just how deep Fifa became embroiled in illicit meetings with the head of the Swiss legal system that one can see how tenuous their position is.
Thus when a spokesperson for Fifa says, “In particular, Fifa has observed a growing number of abusive practices, widespread conflicts of interests, and a market driven by speculation rather than solidarity and redistribution across the football pyramid. The regulations seek to address these issues by introducing basic service standards to the relationship between a football agent and their client, and reinforce the duty of loyalty that exists in all types of agent-client relationships,” that all sounds ok. When one realises that Fifa is in the dock in Switzerland, and has somehow persuaded the English media not to report it at all, all this takes on another meaning.
If Fifa comes out of the fight with The Football Forum badly, or indeed loses another of its court cases in Switzerland, what then? That is something no one knows. But it doesn’t look promising for Fifa.
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