UEFA's Executive Committee has adopted an unequivocal stance on the ownership of football players by third parties – namely, that it should be prohibited as a matter of principle. The committee announced its decision at last week's meeting in Lausanne.
As a result of the Executive Committee's decision, world football's governing body FIFA will be requested to issue worldwide regulations banning third-party ownership of players, which is seen in particular as potentially distorting the integrity of competitions, and leads to money being taken out of the game by parties who invest in players and who profit from transfers of these players as a result.
UEFA also announced after the Lausanne meeting that European football's governing body, through its Professional Football Strategy Council (PFSC), would also be ready to implement its own regulations to ban third-party ownership arrangements in UEFA competitions, should FIFA decide not to take the appropriate steps. If this were the case, a transitional period of three to four seasons would apply.
"This topic has been discussed in detail within the Professional Football Strategy Council [comprising UEFA and the European clubs, professional leagues and players union FIFPro Division Europe]," said UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino. "This body issued a recommendation that third-party ownership should be prohibited, and the Executive Committee endorsed this recommendation.
"FIFA participates in the Professional Football Strategy Council, and took part in the meeting in question. We have been speaking together about the matter, and the FIFA Football Committee, chaired by the UEFA President Michel Platini, has also expressed the wish that third-party ownership of players be prohibited.
"Having said this, if FIFA were to change its mind, then UEFA can of course implement regulations with regard to its own competitions – the same as in England and in France, where the third party ownership is prohibited for competitions. As far as the UEFA competitions are concerned, this is also very well within the remit of UEFA."
Michel Platini expressed firm views on the issue after the Lausanne meeting. "I don't think it's very good if players from several teams belong to a financial company or belong to people," he said. "I think ethically, morally, it is not good. We have thought about it and asked FIFA to deal with it."
Mr Infantino said that no one should be surprised by the UEFA Executive Committee's stance. "This is not a decision which has come out of the blue," he reflected. "This has already been discussed since the month of May, when it was presented for the first time in the Strategy Council.
"We all know that third-party ownership of players bears many threats, and there are many issues linked in terms of the integrity of competitions, financial fair play regulations and so on. It is really time to regulate it and to have a firm stance – however, in a reasonable way, with a transitional period to enable clubs to cope. UEFA is looking to have the necessary regulatory framework put in place to protect clubs and prevent the risk of clubs going out of business. The objective is to protect clubs for the longer term.
"It just means that the clubs need to take this issue in their hands and not give it away out of their hands," the UEFA General Secretary emphasised. "And the players need to have their future in their hands, rather than in the hands of somebody whose business model is to bring about as many transfers of a player as possible, to make as much money as possible – money which then goes out of football and football clubs."
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