European soccer’s governing body followed in the footsteps of England’s Premier League by voting to outlaw the practice of investors partly owning player rights.
FIFA, which regulates soccer worldwide, is looking into a similar ban of the concept investors use to bet that transfer fees of players will increase. The technique is widely used in the top leagues in Portugal, Spain and Turkey, while being banned in England, France and Poland.
“We all know third party ownership of players bears many threats and there are many issues linked with the integrity of the competition, and it’s really time to regulate that,” UEFA’s General Secretary Gianni Infantino told a press conference.
Transfers fall under FIFA’s jurisdiction. Infantino said if the global body doesn’t act, UEFA will ban teams with third- party players from its Europa League and Champions League competitions following a “transitional period” of between three and four years.
English Premier League Chief Executive Richard Scudamore gave a presentation last month to a FIFA group explaining the dangers of allowing outside investors to have stakes in players and how the world’s richest domestic league managed to ban it.
Scudamore and other critics cite the lack of transparency over who the investors are, the risk that they could affect team selection and concerns that money from player sales doesn’t go to teams that develop the talent.
UEFA’s data showed 2.5 billion euros ($3.3 billion) was spent on player trades in the region’s 53 national federations last season. As many as 1,000 players, or 15 percent of all squads in Europe, may be part-owned by investors, according to Raffaele Poli, a researcher at the International Center for Sports Studies in Neuchatel, Switzerland, who co-writes an annual study on the soccer transfer market.
Infantino said the time had come to introduce a cross- European ban on player funds because of new cost control regulations that limit what teams can spend to what they earn. Having an outside investor partially fund a player purchase would distort competition, he added.
To contact the reporter on this story: Tariq Panja in Lausanne, Switzerland, through the London newsroom on at firstname.lastname@example.org