What is the role of a football agent?

Stephanie Beatrice

Behind every famous and successful international footballer is a football agent as their driving force and ally in the football industry.

Football agents are crucial to footballers, and their demand has risen over the past decade due to talent scouting and football transfers.

This article covers the role of a football agent, how they are paid, and how they represent their players legally via an agency or individually.

Why do footballers have agents?

A football agent handles the player’s off-pitch matters, especially with their club and clients. They are often under an agency and have an impressive portfolio of famous footballers they have represented.

Examples of world-famous super agents include Jorge Mendes, who has represented Jose Mourinho and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Another famous agent is Mino Raiola, whose clients include Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and Romelu Lukaku.

Here is a list of the roles and skills of a soccer agent:

1. Contract negotiations and transfer deals

The role of a football agent is to negotiate contract signings to get the best deal and salary package suitable for the footballer. When the contract is over, they negotiate for a renewal if necessary.

An agent manages transfers on the player’s behalf and seeks opportunities to advance their client’s career based on their professional goals and skills.

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The world-breaking football transfer in history was when Neymar Sr., Neymar Jr.’s father and agent, landed him a football transfer to PSG worth €222 million.

3. Talent scouting

Football agents looking for players to represent often attend football matches and identify potential talent to work with.

They find players at academies and local tournaments and assist them in developing their skills.

These agents also create a player profile highlighting their abilities and accomplishments and market them to clubs and other agents.

4. Sponsorship and endorsement deals

Soccer agents identify and negotiate sponsorships and endorsement opportunities for the footballer.

Without agents, football would involve dodgy deals and fraud among the clubs and negatively impact their players. Thus, football agents understand the market and act accordingly to meet their player’s needs.  

5. Advising their clients

One underrated role of a football agent is to advise their clients. Most agents advise their clients (the footballers) about their football career and everyday life, including finances.

They take the stress off the footballer and allow them to focus on the most important thing: their performance.

They manage the player’s salary and offer financial advice regarding the car, house, banking, and investments.

What are the requirements for becoming a football agent?

The requirements to become a football agent include the following:

1. Acquire a degree

While having an academic qualification is not important, it is beneficial for a football agent to have a degree.

The preferred courses include business management or sports management, which equip the football agent with soft skills like leadership and hard skills like marketing in the football industry. A law degree can also come in handy.

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2. Legal certificate to become a football agent

One should register at FIFA and obtain a license to practice as a football intermediary.

FIFA Headquarters in Zurich
FIFA Headquarters in Zurich. Image: Facebook/FIFA

3. Relevant experience

A football agent has to gain experience and knowledge to understand the industry and build a professional network.

One can start working at agencies, clubs, or leagues to improve your skills and professionalism.

4. Networking skills

A good football agent should build their network while strengthening their professional career.

Networking helps strengthen one’s negotiation and communication skills, which are important in the football industry.

Do footballers pay their agents?

While there is confusion on who should pay the football agent, it is standard that they are paid in commission by the player or by the buying club.

In rare cases, the Premier League player may pay their agent 5% of their gross salary to finalize a transfer. In most cases, the club agent negotiates for the player that the club pays the commission on behalf of the player.

To avoid complications, the agent is paid through the third option, where the buying club will employ the agent for themselves and pay the agent on behalf of the player.

When the agent and club agree and sign a contract, the agent will represent the club and its players during transfers. 

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