The executive committee has announced a ban on the “third-party ownership of players”. You will all no doubt recall this issue from the last season’s interminable Carlos Tevez saga. The issue, briefly, was that West Ham had broken premiership rules by permitting an individual other than the club (in this case, the mysterious Kia Joorabchian) to have control over a player’s “economic rights”. Much tut-tutting about how terrible it was that these shady Latin American practices were being brought to
Much of the “concern” about this was highly hypocritical. Some of the unease came from the idea of a player being “owned” by an individual such as an agent – though the legal relationship between player and owner was in fact legally no different than the relationship between player and club – and arrangement which seems to suit everybody just fine. People also seem to have no problem with the Italian variation on this phenomenon – namely, the idea that player can be “co-owned” by more than one team simultaneously.
Anyways, the FIFA Executive Committee, in a not-unusual fit of righteousness, have banned the practice. This is good for the self-proclaimed modern-day Wilberforces, but it’s terrible news for Latin American clubs. Whatever one thinks of these arrangements, the bald fact of the matter is that without these kinds of deals, an awful lot of Latin American clubs – Argentinan ones in particular - would have gone to the wall over the past decade. In financial terms, these arrangements were effectively ways of securitizing team assets – of getting money for players in advance of their actual sale and departure to (usually)
Also, we can be relatively sure that FIFA have left some bone-headed loophole in te regulations which people will rush to exploit, thereby serving to make the murky finances of Argentinian and Brazilian clubs even more opaque than before. Expect this story to run for awhile.
FIFA bans Spain’s Franchise FC (well, future iterations, anyway). A FIFA decision which will generate a surprising amount of goodwill among real football fans! The Executive Committee announced that it will try to force its member associations to eliminate the practice of clubs buying places in higher divisions. We’re not talking here of Genoa-style bribes to win promotion here – we’re talking about actually purchasing playing licenses of teams higher up the pyramid. This, believe it or not, actually happened this year when Spanish fourth division side
Now among the no al calico moderno and AFC Wimbledon crowds, this move will be a big hit. They believe – probably rightly given their historical contexts, that the proper way to move up and down divisions is through relegation and promotion. Indeed, when Blatter made the announcements, he said: "We are not happy with that (the CAS) decision which goes against the principles of our game where promotion and relegation is the essence."
Well, quite. Except…uh, Sepp…MLS? How Don Garber and the USSA will take that statement is an interesting question. Does it mean that, in principle, FIFA could force MLS to adopt relegation and promotion? It seems unlikely that he would ever try, but that he would even suggest that he has the right to do it suggests a man who is very comfortable on the throne.
As for me, I’m all in favour of this one – provided that equal treatment is given to all. However, I seem to recall a complete absence of protest from FIFA when Fiorentina were arbitrarily allowed to jump a level (skipping straight from C2 to B) a few years ago when they were on their way back from bankruptcy. The difference seems to be that Fiorentina are football aristocracy whereas