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SBD Global/June 18, 2013/International Football

Football Agents Say FIFA Plan To Deregulate Industry Is A Bad Idea

Steve Blatherwick is critical of FIFA's plan to deregulate the agent industry
To prevent a feared glut of agents, FIFA "introduced, 12 years ago, a deliberately difficult exam for them to take and pass before being awarded a licence," according to Alyson Rudd of the LONDON TIMES. And it "has become progressively harder." Former League Two Chesterfield defender Steve Blatherwick said, "I wanted to create a business that tried to be different and had the right ethos. The first step was passing the exams. We wanted to do everything by the book." There is, however, "a nasty twist in store for agents such as Blatherwick who studied hard." FIFA, calculating that only 30% of deals are carried out by licensed agents worldwide, "is keen to deregulate the industry and transfer responsibility for agents to players and clubs." This would mean "no more exams and do little to warn off unsuitable candidates." Although the Premier League "has lobbied against deregulation" -- its CEO Richard Scudamore said the proposals filled him with "some horror" -- FIFA revealed two weeks ago that "it wants to persevere with a plan for the present licensing system to be abandoned and aims for approval for a new system to be in place some time next year." Blatherwick said, "It’s the worst thing that can happen. There’s many very good agents but there could be turmoil." Charlie Driver "worked in advertising and ran a company that dealt with digital rights in sport." He passed the FIFA exam, with sports lawyer and Couchmans LLP partner Dan Lowen’s tuition, in April and joined Law Sport alongside Claudio Vigorelli, the agent for Samuel Eto’o. Driver said, "It’s important that there are regulations. With finance there is the FSA [Financial Services Act]. It’s quite dangerous when people come into the industry not knowing too much about it" (LONDON TIMES, 6/17).
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