FIFPro has today filed legal action, together with UEFA, to eliminate third-party ownership (TPO) and end all agreements currently in place. The complaint lodged with the European Commission goes beyond the terms set out in the worldwide ban, which FIFA is set to implement as of May 1, 2015.
If successful, the complaint will prevent the signing of new TPO agreements and demand existing arrangements to be considered illegal and unenforceable.
This is a significant step forward as FIFPro and UEFA combine efforts to not only defend the basic principle of a worldwide ban but also ensure any potential loopholes and windows for circumvention of the new regulations put forth by FIFA are closed.
FIFPro Secretary-General Theo van Seggelen states, "Despite the ban announced by FIFA, which is welcome, FIFPro is not prepared to rest on its laurels. We see a need to reinforce FIFA's position and create an even stronger argument that improves on the new FIFA regulations."
"What we and UEFA have put to the European Commission is that by applying basic principles enshrined in EU law all existing TPO agreements will be declared illegal and therefore not enforceable. This would expand on the rationale behind the implementation of a worldwide TPO ban."
"The threat posed by TPO and similar practices is so great that we must take this action, to protect our players and the industry at large. Football's questionable track record when it comes to implementing effective regulations, as seen in the failed FIFA player agents licensing scheme, further suggests that this joint FIFPro-UEFA legal action is required to effectively confront TPO."
FIFPro President Phillipe Piat argues, "Footballers are still treated like commodities, not as human beings. TPO opens the door to parasites who manipulate players for profit. They buy and sell in a manner that exposes the failings of the transfer system. TPO must not be looked at in isolation. The transfer system is the breeding ground for abusive practices such as TPO."
TPO compromises a basic human right whereby individuals have the personal freedom to move and decide where to offer their labour. Also, the very nature of TPO undermines their rights pursuant to their employment contract. Third parties have a vested interest to terminate a contract and agree a transfer, with the singular objective of maximising their own financial gain. This joint FIFPro-UEFA action comes at a critical time as advocates of TPO take to the courts of Europe to keep the practice alive.
FIFPro Division Europe President Bobby Barnes said, "Claims that TPO assists football economically and gives clubs outside the established elite a chance to compete for trophies are misleading in the extreme."
"The extensive research that has been undertaken proves the economic impact of TPO is overwhelmingly negative and severely damaging the industry. It shows clubs that become reliant on TPO are trapped in a desperate cycle of dependency between debt and speculation with inflationary consequences for the transfer market."
FIFPro President Phillipe Piat adds, "The transfer system has created the current inflationary bubble, denounced by all parties, by all those who work to preserve the future of football and who do not have short-term objectives."
- Published: 01 April 2015