FIFA blocks new agent regulations: The official decision

The International Federation of Association Football, (FIFA) has officially halted the implementation of the new regulations on football agents following objections from several national courts.

On December 16, 2022, the FIFA Council had approved the FIFA Agents Regulations (RAF), constructed as a balanced and reasonable legal tool to uphold the integrity of football and the proper functioning of the football transfer system. However, FIFA faced coordinated lawsuits from agents and agent associations across Europe disputing the legality of RAF and attempting to delay its enforcement.

The majority of these disputes, according to FIFA, were resolved in their favour. In particular, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (TAS), the supreme judicial body for sports-related disputes recognized by FIFA statutes, concurred with the legality and proportionality of the RAF. Various tribunals and/or antitrust authorities rejected various appeals from agents to repeal the RAF, declare them void or delay their implementation. Additionally, a process is pending in the European Court of Justice concerning the validity of RAF, with backing from multiple institutions.

On May 24, 2023, the Dortmund Court in Germany issued an interim order against certain aspects of the RAF rules, requiring FIFA to suspend the application and enforcement of some RAF provisions. This order is inconsistent with prior judicial decisions in other European countries, the TAS ruling, and prior decisions in Germany, including those of appellate courts. FIFA has since initiated an appeal process against the order, and an appeal decision is expected in the first half of 2024.

To adhere to the order, FIFA is halting the implementation of RAF for any transfers associated with the European Union. Imposing the order only on transfers related to the EU would allegedly create a situation of unequal legal standards in the international transfer system, especially between Europe and the rest of the world. As an international governing body of football and a prudent and responsible regulator, FIFA says it has an obligation to prevent such uncertainty and inequality, and to safeguard global competitive balance.

In light of this, the Bureau of the Council approved a temporary worldwide suspension of the RAF rules affected by the aforementioned decision of the German court on December 30, 2023, pending a final decision on the proceedings concerning the RAF by the European Court of Justice. In this context, FIFA is advising all member associations to temporarily suspend equivalent provisions from their national football agents’ regulations, barring any contradictions with mandatory provisions of the law applicable in their territory. FIFA remains convinced that the RAF is a necessary, proportional, and completely legal regulatory step to address systemic deficiencies in the international transfer system, a view iterated by all football stakeholders and all European political authorities.

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