Both FIFA and UEFA have an obligation to safeguard the future of football. The European governing body’s plan to regulate the spending of its constituency members is an admirable, and necessary, step. There are other areas though where UEFA could potentially step in to regulate certain parts of the sport. For example, player transfers. It is so interlinked with the problems facing the sport at this present time that for many it seems like the next logical step for Platini to take.
Such an exercise would undoubtedly come with challenges but it could be a valuable opportunity to stamp out certain, less favourable elements of the sport. Attempting to do so would not come without opposition but providing it received the backing of the clubs it could prove worthwhile.
The primary benefit of having a UEFA regulated transfer market would be that agents would become, for the most part, redundant. There would be no need for agents to act as a mediator if that mediator was a centralised governing body.
At a time when money’s stranglehold of our sport is ever increasing so is the power that agents are able to wield over clubs and footballers. How many players have been persuaded to move from their clubs as a result of their agents? How many footballers’ dream moves have never materialised as a result of their agents’ financial demands?
Sir Alex Ferguson admitted to having cancelled transfers as a result of the demands of the agents. There is a fine line between having the best interests of your client at heart and simply trying to extort as much money out of a club as possible. The vast majority of agents in today’s world have crossed that line.
To rid our sport of agents would also, you would hope, encourage a culture whereby footballers are taught to think for themselves. The commercialisation of football has taken so much from the game that it is important that the players themselves are still able to analyse and appreciate their moral responsibilities and act accordingly.
In theory, if UEFA regulate the transfer market there will also be less of a possibility for corruption. The allegations made by the BBC towards a number of Premier League managers, coaches and agents could be a thing of the past. There would be no opportunity for corruption to go unnoticed if UEFA had an active role in every transfer.
It’s not just bungs that are the issue either. Anybody who read or watched the recent reports on the trafficking of young African footballers to Europe will understand that a more intensive focus is needed on the transfer market, especially when players have come from deprived areas where they may be manipulated and abused.
There are, however, downsides to implementing an initiative like this. The first is that, just because we allocate the responsibility to UEFA it wouldn’t necessarily mean that corruption could not take place. After the revelations of the last two years associated with FIFA, trust for football’s governing bodies are at an all time low whilst having UEFA regulate transfers could stamp out elements of lower level corruption it is far from guaranteed.
The main issue for UEFA would be the sheer scale of the task. Would it actually be possible to closely monitor every single transfer made throughout Europe? And, even if they could do it, would it be painfully inefficient. On the whole, centralised governing bodies are always slower to act than local, devolved governing bodies. Were this pattern to be mirrored in football it could spell the end of last minute deadline day signings and transfers of this nature. Sometimes it is essential for transfers to be conducted quickly and it would appear unlikely that such transfers would ever be possible.
Lastly, while it’s important to remember that some agents do serve some sort of purpose in some cases, it is obvious that UEFA should attempt to create some extra regulating bodies to monitor the transfer market in Europe. The power of certain incredibly rich clubs is becoming dangerous, as is the influence that agents hold over their players. What those necessary next steps are, however, is up to Platini.