European soccer’s governing body Uefa has renewed and expanded its partnership with the European Commission (EC) with the aim of tackling issues surrounding the soccer transfer system and the role of agents within the game.
The extended ‘Arrangement for Cooperation’, which was signed on Wednesday in Brussels, will run until the end of 2020 and sets out plans for both organisations to collaborate in several areas, including on the2020 edition of the Uefa European Championship, the quadrennial international men’s soccer tournament.
Both Uefa and the European Commission state that they are committed to the ‘healthy evolution of football at all levels’, with a focus on ‘matters such as good governance, solidarity, integrity, fair competition, and the sustainable development of the game’.
The two entities said they recognise the need to address issues including contractual stability and the role of agents, and aim to do so through the European Union (EU) social dialogue process.
The news comes following Uefa’s announcement last month that it is considering capping agents’ fees in an attempt to ‘introduce more transparency’.
Uefa said that ‘appropriate sanctions in case of infringement of the rules’ could be applied to enforce regulations, with clubs across the continent increasingly frustrated at disproportionately well-paid agents.
Agents collected a total of UK£220 million (US$308.2 million) in fees during the 2016/17 season, which represented a 38 per cent year-on-year increase.
The cooperation agreement issued on Wednesday outlines the need to improve the overall financial health of European soccer by strengthening the existing rules on Financial Fair Play (FFP), and acknowledges issues including a ‘general lack of transparency, excessive fees, hoarding of players, lack of investment in local talent and other abusive or unethical practices’.
The European Commission and Uefa signed their first cooperation agreement in October 2014 with the aim of strengthening the ‘positive image of sport, especially soccer, and to realise its full potential in all areas of economic and social life’.
Aleksander Čeferin, president of Uefa, said: “Uefa and the European Commission share a common desire to promote the social values of sport and to safeguard the principles of fairness and solidarity. We are pleased that the Commission supports Uefa’s commitment to enhance competitive balance and to improve good governance in football.
“We look forward to working closely with the Commission to further protect, promote and develop football for the benefit of society as a whole.”
Frans Timmermans, vice president of the EC, added: “Football players, men and women, are role models for children and adults across Europe. This great power can be an important ally in the fight against racism and discrimination, and for the promotion of solidarity, sustainability and equality on the pitch and in our daily lives.
"Football is also a cross-border business, with cross-border threats to its security and integrity which can be tackled in partnership with the European Commision. Together, we are a great team."
Tibor Navracsics, commissioner for education, culture, youth and sport, said: “We have been working with Uefa for years, tackling some of the biggest challenges facing football and involving other stakeholders in the game, including players, clubs and leagues, in an inclusive way.
“The renewed Arrangement for Cooperation we have signed today confirms our intention to continue in this spirit, keeping up our efforts to address issues such as good governance, sustainability and gender equality for the benefit of European football, but also our societies at large.”