NYON, Switzerland (Reuters) - The practice of third parties owning a share of footballers was a modern-day form of slavery and had to stop, UEFA president Michel Platini said on Monday.
Third Party Ownership (TPO) is widespread in Brazil and Argentina and has been widely exploited by clubs in Portugal and Spain, who are largely opposed to the FIFA ban on the practice being introduced on May 1.
TPO involves a player’s economic rights being owned by a third-party, such as an agent or sports management agency who may help to cover a young player’s development costs, but then later benefit from a percentage of future transfer fees.
Platini, a staunch opponent of the system, was asked about it by fellow former France international Laurent Blanc, now the manager of Paris St Germain, on a UEFA video forum during the UEFA president answered questions from players and fans.
“I have put a lot of pressure on FIFA to stop third party ownership,” Platini said.
“Today, it’s shameful to see some players with one of their arms belonging to one person, a leg belonging to a funds pension located who knows where, and a third person owning his foot.
“It is shameful; we’re dealing with a type of slavery that belongs to the past.
“Everyone earns money on such transfers, and while we are trying to find money to invest in football, that money goes in the pockets of I don’t know who, and I don’t know where.
“It’s about time that the world of football wakes up, and that the money coming into football remains in football, and doesn’t disappear.”
The Iberian leagues filed a legal challenge with the European Commission this year over FIFA’s decision to ban TPO, saying it strengthened clubs and helped stop talent draining away to wealthier leagues like the English Premier League.
La Liga’s director general Javier Gomez said in January: “If we don’t achieve change together in five years we will turn into the world’s fifth league.”
Meanwhile, Jorge Mendes, one of the sports’s most powerful agents told Reuters in an interview that the ban on TPO was illegal and will kill competition in European football.
“It’s illegal, completely illegal, illegal, illegal,” he said.
Platini, though, is delighted the system will be outlawed.
“It is not a complicated question ... myself, I went on strike in 1972 so that a player remains free, that he belongs to himself,” he said.
Reporting by Mike Collett in London, editing by Ed Osmond