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FIFA set to target agents’ conflicts of interest

Jorge Mendes is set to face scrutiny from FIFA over his close relationship with English Premier League side Wolverhampton Wanderers when football’s world governing body introduces its new agents’ regulations next year.

The ‘superagent’, whose Gestifute organisation has the most valuable stable of players and managers in professional football – including Cristiano Ronaldo and José Mourinho – will have to prove that his arrangements do not oppose the proposed new regulations that will prohibit conflicts of interests between club owners and agents.

A subsidiary of Wolves’ Chinese owners Fosun International, called Foyo, has also had a 15 per cent stake in Start GPS, Gestifute’s parent company since 2015. While the relationship has been permitted by the English Football Association (The FA), it is expected to be closely examined by FIFA.

Gestifute currently represents Wolves’ head coach Nuno Espirito Santo and players including: Rúben Neves, Nélson Semedo, Pedro Neto, Daniel Podence, Rui Patrício, Vitinha, João Moutinho – all of whom are Portguese.

FIFA’s proposed new regulations, due to come into play from September 2021, state: “Any person or entity that holds and interest, directly or indirectly, in a league or club… are forbidden to have any interest in, directly or indirectly, or to hold any position in, the business or affairs of a Football Agent or their private company.”

James Kitching, FIFA’s director of football regulatory, said: “Agents will have an obligation to disclose the source of funding, the shareholding, the structure and the ultimate beneficial ownership of the private company.”

Kitching added that agents and clubs would have to organise their affairs so that they comply with the new rules before next September. “In terms of conflicts of interest, there will not be any transition period, if there is anything in violation of the regulations there is time for it to be corrected, in our view,” he said.

FIFA has launched a third consultation period with the aim of the rules being agreed by the FIFA council by June and to come into force for September. Representing both a player and the selling club – a practice that has been common for Gestifute and Mendes – is also set to be banned by FIFA.

That would prevent deals such as the signing of the striker Fabio Silva, 18, for Wolves for a club record €40 million (£36.4 million) from Porto. Gestifute received €7 million for the deal involving Silva – who is represented by Gestifute. The agent’s fee equated to 17.5 per cent of the total Porto received, with an additional €3 million for other intermediaries.

Under the new regulations, agents will only be permitted to represent both the player and the club registering. They will also prohibit one agent being paid by all three parties, as happened when Manchester United signed Paul Pogba from Juventus in 2016 from which his agent, Mino Raiola, made a total of £41 million.

Agents’ commissions will be capped at 10 per cent of the transfer fee, under FIFA’s new rules, with a licensing system introduced to ensure all payments to agents go through FIFA, and require agents to disclose a full list of their clients for transparency.

Furthermore, FIFA’s proposed changes will mean agents being able to receive a maximum of 3 per cent of the remuneration a player receives from a transfer. During the 2019/20 season, Premier League clubs paid out more than £263 million to football agents, an increase of almost £3 million on the previous year.

Author: Kai McKechnie