Zurich, 25 July 2023
The Football Forum (TFF) has taken note of the award issued yesterday by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in the proceedings between the “Professional Football Agents Association” (PROFAA) and FIFA, concerning FIFA’s “Football Agents Regulations” (FAR).
Far away from being surprised, TFF reiterates all observations made and questions asked thus far about the possibility that certain associations may be considered as representatives of the agents’ category and of the reasons why such a dispute was brought before the CAS.
As for the legitimacy of PROFAA to be a representative body for agents, reference must be made first to PROFAA’s former Vice-President statements, according to which “the association was made up of a large contingency of upcoming agents and students, which outweighed the number of licensed agents in the association. It is an educational platform for those aspiring to become a part of the agency industry, other than a handful of well-established agents.”
This may explain also why, none of the very few names which are disclosed to belong to PROFAA are known to TFF members, who have been exercising their agents’ activity for several decades in every corner of the world. When looking at the composition of PROFAA’s “board” , moreover, the only person which is indicated to be an agent is the president, which TFF finds to be singular for an “agents’ association”.
The CAS award also emphasizes that specific rules of the FAR, such as some about the caps, were based on suggestions made by PROFAA itself. “With regards to the so (and self) called “FIFA’s consultation process”, it would be interesting to know what the alleged different proposals are and who are the entities claiming to represent the agents. That way these entities will take responsibility towards agents who have now to fight against the FAR”, said TFF President Rafaela Pimenta. Despite of FIFA’s proclaims about transparency, however, such information has not been made available to the public.
TFF wishes to stress that the CAS arbitration was initiated following to a specific agreement between PROFAA and FIFA and that the relevant award has no binding effect for agents around the world but is a matter between PROFAA (and its members) and FIFA.
The CAS award, moreover, has no binding effect whatsoever for State Courts and the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) which are the competent venues to adjudicate the disputes against this set of regulations. “As an institution specialized in sports law, the CAS has taken a significant responsibility in issuing an award that contradicts State Courts decisions, drafted by judges experts in commercial and competition laws, namely the laws actually breached by the FAR”, said TFF Executive Vice-President Christian Rapp. TFF considers the credibility of sports arbitration to be in question, in a situation in which a Panel of a sports arbitral institution has rendered a decision on a matter not concerning sports-law. The award manifestly contradicts decisions of competent State Courts on the matter, disregards and distorts applicable jurisprudence of the CJEU and established competition law practice.
“We are asking ourselves what is the strategy behind FIFA insisting on the suspension of proceedings pending before State Courts, alleging the need to wait until a decision of the CJEU, while it didn’t show the same deference for the CJEU in the case before the CAS”, said TFF President Roger Wittmann.
TFF and its members will continue seeking justice before the competent authorities, which shall have the final word on the dispute.