Date: 30th June 2008 at 11:46am
Written by:

Players and their pimps, or agents as they choose to call themselves, whoring themselves around the game is a practice we may just have to get used to. It doesn’t have to be that way but it seems neither FIFA or UEFA have the slightest interest in enforcing their own regulations. As a consequence the sordid spectacle of players chasing pots of gold every transfer break seems set to irritate supporters with ever increasing frequency.

This is a direct consequence of the money that has flowed into the game over the last 10 or 15 years. You can snort with indignation at the lust with which some players will chase ever more money but when this can be another £20m or so over 4 or 5 years it`s not so hard to understand even if it is disgusting to those who ultimately provide the funds. When the pimps can make £2m or more out of the transaction there is no shortage of incentive to manufacture a deal. But can you really blame them? Is it really any more obnoxious than, for example, Elton John or Paul McCartney earning hundreds of millions over their careers? That we have this situation at all isn`t entirely the footballing authorities fault but the inability to control it within acceptable boundaries most definitely is. It is possible to regulate the business of football, as it is other businesses, so that wealthy clubs can adhere to reasonable moral and ethical standards to maintain the integrity of the game.

Uefa will make some noises about wealthy Premiership clubs, in some cases running up debts, which enable them to attract players from around the world but are reluctant to do anything other than make the noise. They could have acted against Real in their pursuit of Ronaldo. They would argue that the evidence is circumstantial but any club expressing the wish to sign another player and indicating publicly the fees that they would be prepared to pay and the wages the player could expect to receive is going way beyond a mere expression of interest. They could have acted earlier in ManU`s continued interest in Hargreaves. Once they approached Bayern and their bid was refused ManU should have dropped all interest and not made any further public comment about the player. Much the same pattern exists in Milans continued expression of a desire to sign Adebayor.

These players are able to claim that they have a better offer from other clubs. Clichy apparently claims to have received good offers from Italy prior to signing a new contract with us. How can they be aware of these offers if a fundamental rule governing actions between clubs has not been broken? Article 18.3 of the FIFA rules states:

A club intending to conclude a contract with a professional must inform the player`s current club in writing before entering into negotiations with him. A professional shall only be free to conclude a contract with another club if his contract with his present club has expired or is due to expire within six months. Any breach of this provision shall be subject to appropriate sanctions.


In order for a player to be aware that a ‘better offer` is available then this rule must have been broken unless the players` existing club was informed in writing and presumably permission given to negotiate. If the club making the offer hasn`t previously agreed a fee with the existing club how are they in a position to decide what offer they can afford to make? It isn`t possible to hide behind agents because anyone acting on behalf of another and receiving payment for his intermediary is deemed one and the same in the eyes of the law as the person or persons they are acting for.

Could Uefa or Fifa act if they want to? According to Article 18.3 ‘any breach of this provision shall be subject to appropriate sanctions`. In conjunction with Article 17.5 relating to inducement to breach a contract they have the power to act but not it seems the will. At the very least a case of bringing the game into disrepute with sanctions against clubs inhibiting them from registering players is clearly possible. It should be enough to give clubs some caution in how they go about their business.

But don`t expect anything other than double talk from Uefa. In one breath Platini will claim that the money amongst the big premiership clubs is a bad thing and in another he will claim as he did recently that “Every club in the world would like to have Ronaldo. It`s part of the system we have today. Players move from club to club and I can understand why Real Madrid want him. They had di Stefano and Puskas in the past, and as Ronaldo is considered one of the best or the best player in the world it`s normal. If the club has the finances they can do it, if they don`t have the money they can`t.” In other words it is the money that really talks in Platini`s world too.