Since the Lisbon Treaty, the European Parliament has been given extra powers in the area of sport, with the Culture and Education Committee taking the lead. So, yesterday in a meeting of the coordinators from each political group we decided that we should table an oral question with a debate about one of the more important issues facing sport today; the issue of players’ agents.
We’ve all seen the attention grabbing headlines about the likes of Paul Stretford, Wayne Rooney’s former agent, but the problems surrounding this issue aren’t limited to the U.K. or even football. In 2007 the European Commission issued a white paper on sport that, amongst other things, discussed the problems of player’s agents. It said that there have been numerous reports of bad practices including corruption, money laundering and the trafficking of under-age players. Not only is this damaging for the individuals involved but also the profile of sport generally.
Unfortunately not much has happened since then, so I think it is a good move on the part of the Culture Committee to try and put this matter back on the table. The is a Europe wide issue, with players from various sports moving between countries and sometimes continents and at the moment the laws surrounding player representation is patchy across member states. Perhaps we can look in to a pan-European licensing system for agents and/or an agent’s register to help clean up this rather murky world. This is not to say that all agents are corrupt, but EU legislation could help by recognising good agents and stopping bad ones. I look forward to a lively discussionin the European Parliament and I hope we can find a workable solution.