What a minor player and his parents should pay attention to when signing a contract with a soccer agent?


The high competition in the market of football agents and the increasing transfer quotas for underage players from year to year make them enjoy unflagging interest from agents. This is confirmed, for example, by images from junior national team matches and matches of central junior leagues, where one can meet many agents or scouts acting on their behalf. Attendance at a match is also sometimes an excellent opportunity to enter into discussions with a player’s parents or legal guardians. This is because it should be remembered that establishing cooperation and signing a contract with a minor player requires parental consent and signature (for the purposes of this article, the author’s use of the phrase “parents” will refer to any legal guardians of a minor player). In this publication we will point out what u-18 players and their parents should pay attention to.

PZPN regulations on football agents

The regulations on agents introduced in 2015 constituted a kind of deregulation of the profession, making access to the profession in question much easier. The activity of an agent, or rather a transactional intermediary because that is what a football agent is called under the PUPN regulations, could be undertaken almost “on the spur of the moment” by purchasing third-party liability insurance and making an application to the appropriate registration system for transactional intermediaries run by the Polish Football Association. The aforementioned regulations, however, introduced an important restriction in the relationship between the intermediary and the u-18 player. Under the power of the regulations in question, the agency may not charge any remuneration on the basis of an intermediary agreement concluded with a minor player. This applies both to commissions from the player himself, as well as the collection of any remuneration in connection with the transfer of the player.

Despite the fact that violation of this prohibition is threatened with disciplinary liability, one could encounter cases of its violation in the industry. Recall, for example, the high-profile media case with Grzegorz Rasiak and Korona Kielce, which we wrote about in 2019[1].

FIFA’s new regulations for soccer agents

At the end of 2022, FIFA enacted new regulations for soccer agents, which will come into force gradually in 2023. The new regulations introduced by the international soccer federation represent a return to the pre-2015 solution, when any candidate wishing to become a soccer agent had to pass an exam prepared by FIFA and the Polish Football Association, which in turn made it possible to obtain a license. What conditions now need to be met to become a football agent we wrote in an earlier publication[2].

What should be noted in the new FIFA regulations from the point of view of a minor player?

First of all, an agent can sign an agency agreement with a player and his parents no earlier than 6 months before the date when he can sign his first professional contract. According to Polish regulations, this is the date of the player’s 15th birthday. In other words, it will be possible to conclude a contract with a transaction agent in Poland six months before the player turns 15. Importantly, the agent will be able to enter into discussions with a minor player only after obtaining prior written parental consent.

FIFA has taken a somewhat more lenient approach to the subject of remunerating agents than the current PZPN regulations. As a rule, a transactional intermediary may receive his commission, but only if the player signs his first or subsequent professional contract (as long as the player is an amateur collecting a commission is not authorized). So far we do not know how the PZPN will approach the issue in question. The rules introduced by the International Football Federation apply to transactions and contracts of an international nature.

Regulations at the national level are the domain of PZPN, which will have to adapt the current regulations to those of the world soccer federation. Noteworthy, the Football Association will be able to introduce regulations that are stricter than FIFA’s, such as by maintaining a complete ban on agents making money in connection with the representation of minors.

In addition to the aforementioned requirements, a football agent representing a underage player is required to receive further training under the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) program introduced by FIFA. Training under the CPD program should include topics related to the representation of u-18 players. In addition, the football agent should further educate on the rules of employment in the country where the player is to sign a contract.

What to pay attention to in practice when signing a contract with an agency

Football agents try in various ways to win the trust of young players and their parents. Presenting the benefits of cooperation with the agency, they offer ad hoc benefits, such as sponsorship agreements with suppliers of sports equipment, medical, physiotherapeutic or legal care, or unquantifiable ones, especially citing their experience gained by servicing well-known players with an established position in the world of soccer. They treat the signing of an agency contract with young players as a kind of investment in the future.

The initial phase of cooperation is treated as an opportunity to build a relationship with the footballer and his parents. However, it should be remembered that an agency contract is a contract of trust, the youth football player entrusts the intermediary with his career. One of the pitfalls that footballers fall into is the subject of settlements with the intermediary. It is common market practice for agents to offer not to charge the player for their services.

The benefit, however, is apparent. More often than not, when signing a contract with a player, clubs have a specific budget allocated to him. As a result, the commission paid to the agent detracts from the remuneration that the player himself can get for playing ball.

The aforementioned practice is to be curbed by new regulations of the world football federation on the rules of remuneration of football agents; all settlements with agents are to be carried out through the FIFA system of the so-called Clearing House. We write more about this in another article[3].

In addition, according to the current state of the law, an agent representing two parties (having a contract with a player and a club) should obtain prior written consent from both parties for dual representation. This is important because acting on behalf of two parties to a transaction may create a risk of conflict of interest.

The agent representing the ceding club will be interested in negotiating the highest possible transfer amount, which may be at the expense of the salary the player will be able to count on at the new club. Therefore, from the player’s point of view, it is crucial to ensure that the agent has the ability to demand disclosure of all settlements and documents entered into in connection with that player’s signing of a contract or the transfer of such a player. Now this entitlement of the player’s side has been explicitly indicated in the new FIFA regulations, it is important to properly regulate the consequences of the agent’s violation of this obligation.

Exclusivity of the agent and the consequences of its violation

It is crucial for an agent from a legal point of view to guarantee himself the exclusive right to represent the player’s interests. According to contractual provisions commonly operating in the market today, agents expect to have the authority to exclusively represent the player’s interests under threat of contractual penalty. As a result, in a situation where an agent fails to fulfil his contract or does so improperly (fails to seek a club for a player, does so unsuccessfully or conducts negotiations unreliably to) the footballer’s hands are tied and must act with an intermediary.

According to the new regulations, the agent will not be able to limit the player’s authority to act independently in any way (contractual penalties will also be unacceptable for acting independently). In such a situation, the agent will be able to count on his remuneration if he proves that he contributed to the transaction in question or the negotiation of the deal. Exclusivity to representation, however, can be freely modified and does not have to apply only to cases of independent action, i.e. it is permissible to impose geographic or temporal restrictions, on specific leagues, clubs, etc.

The recent regulatory changes introduced by the world soccer federation, abandoning the registration system in favour of a licensing system and increasing control over agents’ activities, is a step in the right direction. However, practice will show how effective these solutions will be and how they will deal with the problems of the world’s most popular sport.

[1] http://wrdcxdb.cluster028.hosting.ovh.net/co-grozi-rasiakowi/

[2] http://wrdcxdb.cluster028.hosting.ovh.net/agent-pilkarski-w-nowych-przepisach-fifa/

[3] http://wrdcxdb.cluster028.hosting.ovh.net/ile-pilkarze-zaplaca-agentom-pilkarskim-nowe-przepisy-fifa/