It has been an extraordinary year, and for football, this is no different. The entire game has been shaken up, with a pause to matches across the world, then games played without fans and now a slow, gradual return to normality.
This has been an important year also for The Football Forum (“TFF”), which has implemented significant changes in its structure and has been dedicated to protecting and promoting the rights of players and agents.
TFF transitioned to become an association of players and agents based on the fact that they share common interests. TFF was founded as a response to the growing threat to the rights of its members and to develop the best professional practice of football agency and employment-related standards for football players.
Players’ rights and their leading role in football have been challenged by several parties and on different occasions. Many in the game have seen the pandemic as an opportunity to push through dramatic and ill-advised changes. While the pandemic has had an impact on the game, proposed reforms seem to be at the expense of players.
This is certainly the case of the discussions around salary caps. The wildfire of this discussion has started with the English Football League (“EFL”) and is spreading across the rest of Europe where national and international governing bodies are pushing to make the players pay for something which is not their responsibility. TFF is standing up for the players and has emphasized that the salary cap rules for the EFL is rushed into implementation without a detailed evidence base, without consultation and without consensus amongst all stakeholders, not least players themselves.
TFF has made clear that players’ image rights lie exclusively with the player and that the player alone decides whether his image can be used.
It is the responsibility of TFF to protect players against third parties using image rights without permission and without fair compensation.
In the interest of all players, every user of a players’ image must prove the valid acquisition of these rights and demonstrate that the compensation the player receives is fair.
Football’s governing body FIFA is also notoriously attempting to impose new agents regulations, upon proposal of its own “stakeholders committee” in which no agent is represented. The regulations will threaten a player’s protection, which TFF President, Mino Raiola said was “about power” not regulations.
TFF is at the forefront of the challenge against the proposed agents regulations which are unlawful in many respects. The association has also joined forces with several national bodies which share its views on the regulations.
TFF members have common interests and common goals and that is why in 2021, TFF is best placed to fight on the behalf of players and agents, a fight that is evermore necessary. TFF will be challenging salary caps and agents’ regulations in any competent venue, including courts, while also working to find a solution to the debate over players’ image rights and finally shed full light on this issue.
Mino Raiola, President of The Football Forum, said: “Let us be clear: these regulations are about power and that is clearly what FIFA wants. The football world like the rest of the world has suffered enormously over the past year but FIFA is using this to strengthen its control on the game. The Football Forum will be taking the fight to FIFA next year as well as standing up for players’ rights and ensuring that these shocking salary caps are dropped as a matter of urgency. 2021 will be a big year for us.”
Jonathan Barnett, Vice President of The Football Forum, said: “From the unjust and unlawful salary caps to the exploitation of players’ image rights, footballers are under threats from across the game and The Football Forum will be doing everything in its power to protect the rights of players. We will fight tooth and nail to prevent salary caps because that is what we care about, the welfare of the players.”