February 15, 2018 / 5:11 PM / 7 days ago

Soccer: Infantino says agents fees have taken 'worrying' direction

LONDON (Reuters) - Agents fees have taken a “worrying” direction and need to be better regulated to guard against bribery, corruption and money laundering, FIFA president Gianni Infantino said on Thursday.

Infantino said $6.4 billion had circulated for international transfers alone in the past year, with $500 million going to agents and intermediaries.

”I think the rise of commissions paid to agents has taken a worrying direction,“ Infantino said in an interview with ESPN FC. ”And many agents agree with me and would like more oversight. It’s also a question of football’s ecosystem... today there are no rules in place.

“Anyone can do what he wants. But the reality shows us that there are risks of bribery, corruption and money laundering. It’s not me saying it; there are many reports from government authorities that show this is the case.”

The amount of money being spent on transfers has doubled in the last four or five years, according to Infantino.

”You could say the system is healthy because there is lots of money,“ he said. ”But the trend is worrying.

“That’s why we need to act.”

A huge slice of the spending is done by England’s Premier League, although new rules mean next summer’s transfer window will shut before the start of the season, rather than at the end of August as has been the case.

Fourteen of the 20 Premier League clubs voted for the change and Infantino offered his support.

”I‘m very happy with the Premier League’s proposal,“ he said. ”It makes sense when you start the season to know what your squad is. And then you play the season with your squad.

“You (should not) be able to change one week, two weeks or months into the season and risk losing maybe your best player. It’s not right. We have to protect the values (that) have made football what it is, (as well as the game‘s) integrity.”

Although Premier League clubs will only be allowed to sign players up until Aug. 9, the likes of Spanish heavyweights Barcelona and Real Madrid as well as clubs in Germany and Italy, will be able to strengthen their squads until the end of August.

Infantino also said FIFA was evaluating ways to protect the competitiveness of leagues and helping homegrown talent.

”It’s important to bring in some sporting rules such as squad size limits and limitations on loan players,“ he said. ”We all have an interest that the best players play and today with the concentration of the best in a few leagues (and clubs) this is not happening.

“We need to also look into homegrown player rules to find a competitive balance.”

Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Toby Davis

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