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European Members of Parliament said football needs to distribute revenue more fairly as FIFPro released data that showed teams got just 0.5 per cent in training compensation of the $4.2 billion in player transfer fees last year.

The share matches a record low and was ten times less than club payments to agents. The data, compiled by FIFA but not released publicly, was shown to MEPs at an event in Brussels last night.

“The transfer system is rewarding agents far more than football clubs that produce talent,” FIFPro Secretary General Theo van Seggelen said. “How can this be right? It’s critical the system is overhauled.”

FIFPro, the international players union which represents 65,000 footballers, in September 2015 filed a complaint to the European Commission about the player transfer system accusing it of being unlawful and unjustified. The Commission is studying the complaint and has asked FIFA for its response.

“The transfer market continues to grow in size, complexity and intensity,” Richard Corbett, an MEP from England, said. “It needs a thorough investigation to see whether it is fair, transparent and above board and whether it works in the wider interest of the game.”

In 2001, FIFA introduced training compensation for clubs that developed players between 12 and 21 to try and encourage spending on youth academies. But the global sum last year was no more than $20.7 million in 2015, according to the latest annual report by FIFA’s Transfer Matching System which tracks spending. The percentage matches the previous record low of 2012. FIFA TMS began its research in 2011.

Corbett, an English MEP, said the FIFPro event also showed how the distribution of Champions League revenue to teams outside the competition was “miserly.” With the notable exception of Leicester City, which leads the English Premier League, only “two or three teams” from each country can expect to win domestic European leagues, Corbett said.  

Most transfer fees were exchanged by the biggest clubs in Europe’s top five leagues, according to the FIFA TMS report. The amount of compensation that clubs paid agents in 2015 rose by 15 percent to $228 million.

“Transfer fees are circulating among football’s elite, keeping a handful of clubs and a few agents rich, and not enough money is reaching smaller clubs,” Van Seggelen said. “Ever since the creation of the current transfer system in 2001 there has been a clear lack of motivation to modernize football.”

The football transfer system dates back to the 19th century. Santiago Fisas, an MEP from Spain,  said that he was “very uncomfortable” that unlike in other industries football players are still bought and sold.

FIFPro members see repeated evidence that under the system players do not have the same rights as other EU workers. Dario Simic, president of the Croatian players union, told MEPs that clubs abuse their dominant position over players. Simic played for Dinamo Zagreb, AC Milan and Internazionale.

Clubs can demand a transfer fee for a player once he is under contract and in EU nations such as Croatia, Slovenia, Slovakia and the Czech Republic they make players train alone and even attack them to force them to sign new deals, Simic said.

“My question to you is: Would you like your child to play in such a club?” Simic asked MEPs. “Is this an environment that deserves lesser oversight by you, the European institutions?”

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