What is it about?

The European Commission actively supports the development of adequate rules for regulating the transfers of players and the role of agents in professional team sports. This mainly takes place through the gathering of evidence and discussions with governing bodies, professional groups, and other interested parties.

While the Commission recognises the right of sports authorities to set their own rules, these must respect EU legislation on competition and the free movement of workers.

Why is it needed?

Transfer rules have the objective of ensuring the integrity of sporting competitions. However, recent research has shown that action is needed to tackle inflated fees and reduce the risk of a growing imbalance between competing clubs.

As sport becomes increasingly international, variations in the way that rules are set - especially in relation to agents - have been linked to both financial crime and the exploitation of younger players.

What has been done so far?

Commission discussions with FIFA in 2001 led to modification of FIFA's Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players.

The 2009 Study on Sports Agents in the European Union analysed the activities of agents and their wider role, in the context of the internationalisation of professional sport, higher fees, the growing number of transfers and increasing numbers of contracts in areas such as image rights, sponsorship, and advertising.

In 2011, an EU Conference on Sports Agents was held which focused on the main team sports in Europe. It identified standardisation of the profession as one option for further consultation and an opportunity to develop and test quality requirements.

The Commission released a study in 2013 on the economic and legal aspects of transfers of players which showed that the transfer systems adopted by team sport organisations can help ensure fairer competition.

The EU Expert Group on Good Governance adopted in December 2013 a set of recommendations on the supervision of the activities of agents and on transfers of players that will be presented to the Council).

What are the next steps?

The Commission will ensure that relevant EU rules are respected when transfers of players, notably through the involvement of sports agents, take place. The Commission is ready to provide guidance and assistance to Member States and sports organisations in the discussion about transfers and agents in sport.