Football agents pocketed $1m-plus on 117 transfer deals in 2021, Fifa reveals
Fees paid to agents rose in 2021 despite clubs cutting their transfer spending, with intermediaries pocketing $1m (£760,000) or more on 117 occasions.
The eye-opening figures have been published by Fifa as it seeks to rewrite the regulations relating to agents, including capping the amount of money they can make from any transfer deal. According to the report Intermediaries in International Transfers, fees paid to agents totalled $500.8m in 2021, up slightly on the year before ($497.5m), with fees of $1m or more making up 64.2% of that total. The spending came as total international transfer fees fell from $5.18bn in 2020 to $4.31bn this year.
Other interesting snapshots captured by the Fifa report include the 48 deals in which every party – buying and selling clubs as well as players – paid an intermediary for their services. It also records that payments, as a percentage of the total transfer fee, grow larger the smaller the deal, with the median fee paid to an agent in a deal of less than $500,000 amounting to 18.8% of the total.
The figures are not without their context, given Fifa’s attempts to revise the transfer system. A third version of new football agent regulations are out for consultation in the game. They include stricter rules on agent payments than in previous versions, with caps set to apply across all types of fees, rather than simply the commission from a transfer. In total an agent will never be able to claim more than 10% of a transfer fee or a player’s annual remuneration, and will often be entitled to less.
These moves have been welcomed by many within the game, including the European Club Association and the Premier League, who have lobbied for the rules to be tightened. There has been opposition from many of the world’s most powerful agents, however, with Jonathan Barnett and Mino Raiola threatening legal action over the plans.
Fifa says it remains in dialogue with the majority of agents and has shared its latest draft of regulations with those agents who remain outside the process. Emilio García Silvero, Fifa’s chief legal and compliance officer, said: “We know there are a certain group of agents who have some reservations. We respect this position. We think we are doing the right thing and that our ideas will bring greater transparency. If 20 or 30 agents think we are in breach of the law, we cannot prevent them going to court. We are not worried.”