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Updated 11/24/2018

Written by

Pablo Bruera




In this paper we analyze the origin of economic rights in football, as well as the sanctions that some clubs have suffered for violating these rules imposed by FIFA, and adhered to by all Associations.

We also examine the regulations of FIFA through the regulation of the transfer of players statute, the rules that regulate this institute in Argentina, in other countries and the resolution of FIFA that authorizes players to be holders of economic rights from 26 June 2018.

Finally, we make a review to draw some conclusions, after this ban has been implemented for some years.

We advance that in our opinion this model in relation to economic rights has not worked, and in view of the new investments and actors that come to football, this prohibition will continue to be violated in greater depth.



The economic right arises from the value of the transfer of a player from one club to another.

This right derives from the federative law and arises from the money that one club is paid to another for the transfer of a player.

Later we will see that the economic rights have specific characteristics and very different from the federative rights.

The TPOs consist in that the economic rights of the players are in the hands of third parties, like an agent, agency, investment fund, etc., and they benefit with the future percentage of the transfer of the player.

The economic right of a soccer player is the patrimonial part of the Federative Rights that the clubs have over the athlete. In other words, the economic rights are based on the monetary value of the federative rights.



Prohibition vs. regulation



The transfer of economic rights has been the most important source of funding for clubs in Latin America and some European countries.

The Iberian and Portuguese league presented demand in FIFA so that the economic rights are not prohibited, but proposed to go to a regulatory model that avoids abuses and bad practices, arguing that the presence of third parties strengthens the clubs and helps to stop the flight of talents to the richest leagues.

Former UEFA president Michel Platini and the international union of professional footballers argued that the ownership of players by third parties raises questions about money laundering and other illegal activities as well as against the principles Ethics and Human Rights.

The presence of third parties who own a part of the rights of footballers is a modern form of slavery and had to end, said Michel Platini.

"Today, it is a shame to see players whose arms belong to a person, a leg belongs to a pension fund based on who knows where and a third person owns the foot," said Platini, as an argument to end this practice.

This type of TPO was widespread in Brazil and Argentina and was widely exploited by Portuguese and Spanish clubs, which were opposed to the FIFA ban.

The risks seen by the promoters of the prohibition can be summarized in four central ideas:

1-That FIFA loses control to exercise sanctions, since it is evident that it could not do so with third parties.

2-That investors have influence on the performance of players.

3-That the players were considered merchandise, as Platinì maintained, and not true workers.

4-That is generated in an advantage between the clubs that contracted with third parties and those that did not.

The right of sport as an autonomous branch


The institute that we are analyzing proves, once again, that the right of sport is an autonomous branch of law.

A soccer player generates with his transfer an economic resource that, in general, the workers do not generate. This type of employment is regulated by specific rules and jurisprudence, which make this activity.

We can say that in no other activity a worker to move from one company to another generates economic rights.

This branch of law has come to fill a normative vacuum and respond to a social phenomenon that mobilizes crowds.


The prohibition of the transfer of economic rights



FIFA has banned since 2015, that clubs may assign the Economic Rights of players to third parties.

The reform produced serious contradictions such as the Swiss code of obligations, the community rules, or the constitutional regulations of the different countries.

In fact, the restriction on the movement of capital is prohibited and, on the other hand, the Swiss Constitution guarantees economic freedom as an elementary right.

However, the TAS has endorsed the ban imposed by FIFA, recognizing that European regulations have not been violated by this regulation.

At this point the CAS from the prohibition changes its jurisprudence since it had said that it was totally legitimate the transfer of economic rights, even, argued that the player's will was not even needed to perform the transfer of economic rights because it did not imply Nothing concrete about the life of the athlete.


As we have said, the central motivations of this prohibition are that entrepreneurs, investment funds, etc., decide on the sporting life of a player creating conflicts of interest.

In this way it seeks to preserve the autonomy of clubs in the transfer of players.


Origin of economic rights


They emerge from the 90s as a way to obtain resources for clubs without having to part with the football player.

What the club gives is a percentage of a future sale, making a contract with one or several third parties.

The novelty of the system was that money was advanced from a possible future sale without having to part with the player.

In order for the third party to obtain the benefit, the conditional obligation of the future sale must be met. In this way the clubs also reduce the risk regarding the soccer player




FIFA sanctioned this club for violating regulations that clubs can not assign their economic rights to third parties.

The sanction of FIFA was that during 4 seasons it can not incorporate players plus a millionaire fine, without contemplating the elimination of points.

Articles 18 bis and 18 ter of the regulations of the player transfer statute were violated, since the club sold a part of the Economic Rights of several players to third parties that influenced the club's policy, affecting the autonomy in the transfer of players.

The TAS endorsed this prohibition since it maintains that restrictions on the freedom of movement of capital are justified, in order to comply with the sporting objectives of the clubs and thus avoid possible conflicts of interest, as well as the use of football as an instrument of the money laundering or entering football capitals of dubious origin. It also seeks to avoid the emergence of match arrangements. This organism lowered the sanction to 3 seasons without incorporating players.

So the European Commission in Brussels rejected a lawsuit against the FIFA ban, brought by the investment fund Doyen and the Belgian club Seraing.

This body ratifies the general principle that transfers by third parties generate a conflict of interest.


The Brussels Court of Appeal declares the clauses of submission to the FIFA and UEFA TAS illegal


The Brussels Court of Appeal has issued a judgment of 29 August 2018, in which it declares that the arbitration clauses contained in the statutes of FIFA, UEFA and its member federations (and therefore of all the similar clauses contained in the statutes of the federations of all other sports) are illegal, since they violate Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Article 47 of the European Charter of Fundamental Rights.

The Court of Appeal, after underlining that the national federations participate in the application of the rules of FIFA and UEFA (in this particular case, the rules on the TPO , the Financial Fair Play and the arbitration proceedings), considers that: « FIFA and UEFA can not dispute that the solution chosen by the court could allow any FIFA or UEFA regulation to be challenged before the jurisdictions of any country by also directing the action against the national federation in question, since it would obstruct legitimate expectations FIFA and UEFA to be sued before the Swiss courts. Indeed, the solution derives from the international nature (worldwide for FIFA, European for UEFA) of the activities of these parties and the pyramidal structure of the organization of sport, so that the international associations of the highest participate in it. level as national federations. 
In short, not only FIFA and UEFA will no longer be able to hide in the TAS, but they can also be sued before any court of a State in all the countries in which its regulations take effect thanks to the collaboration of the federation corresponding national

The court argues that these clauses violate Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Article 47 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU.


Jean-Louis DUPONT, Martin HISSEL and Patrick HENRY, lawyers of the RFC Seraing , declare: «In view of this sentence and looking ahead, it is illusory that the international federations try to impose on all and for all an arbitration before the CAS. In addition, with regard to the past, it is very likely that the validity of many sentences issued by the CAS could be questioned, because of the illegality of the clauses that imposed the competence of the CAS.


The Roberto Heras case


The plaintiffs relied on the ruling of the Spanish supreme court in the Roberto Heras case.

The Spanish high court declared null the sentence against the cyclist for giving positive in the return Spain 2005 on the grounds that Heras did not have to accept the competition of the TAS without having submitted voluntarily to it.

The consent of the athletes has not been free or voluntary so that compulsory arbitration is unconstitutional for Spain.








Other cases of sanctions


Al Arabi of Qatar has been sanctioned with a fine of CHF 187,500 for several contracts that allowed a third party to influence the independence of the club, for concluding third-party property agreements in violation of paragraphs 4 and 5 of Article 18 ter RSTP, as well as as for a breach of confidentiality and the lack of correct and mandatory information entry in the international transfer matching system within the framework of the transfers of seven different players.

Sporting CP de Portugal has been sanctioned with a fine of CHF 110,000 for two contracts that allowed a third party to influence the independence of the club, as well as for not registering an existing agreement owned by third parties in ITMS and for not entering a correct instruction and the correct and mandatory information in ITMS

Sl Benfica of Portugal has been sanctioned with a total fine of CHF 150,000 for two contracts that allowed a third party to influence the club's independence.

Rayo Vallecano of Spain has been sanctioned with a fine of CHF 55,000 for contracts that allowed a third party to influence the independence of the club, as well as for not registering an agreement of ownership of an existing third party and for not entering the correct and obligatory information in ITMS.

RC Celta de Vigo of Spain was sanctioned with a fine of CHF 65,000 CHF for signing a contract that allowed SL Benfica to influence the club's independence as well as for using ITMS as a negotiation tool




These rights are divisible, they can be divided and their ownership can be shared as opposed to the federative rights that do not have any of these characteristics.

The holder of the economic right acquires an expectation of having a future gain.

The economic rights are a mechanism of financing of the clubs, and before the prohibition, an investment tool.

The owner of the economic right may be different from the club holder of the federative right.

As we said the federative rights can not be divided or divided, and can only belong to one club at a time. This right, then, can not be partially transferred.


Origin of the reform


In 2008, FIFA adds article 18 bis in the regulations of the player transfer statute.

This provision only prohibited third parties from influencing the clubs and ending up controlling the career of the soccer player, but there was no prohibition on third parties investing in the economic rights of the player.

At the 64th FIFA Congress in 2014, Geoff Thompson, president of the Dispute Resolution Chamber, presented a summary on ownership of the economic rights of the player by third parties.

The studies commissioned by FIFA conclude that few people have a very strong market power and create areas of conflicts of interest.

It was estimated at that time that the economic value was 360 million dollars per year representing 9.7% of international transfers.


Regulations retj


18a Influence of third parties in clubs


No club shall enter into a contract allowing the opposing club (s) and

Vice versa or to third parties, assume a position by which to influence matters

Labor and on transfers related to independence, politics or

the performance of the club teams.


The Disciplinary Committee of FIFA may impose disciplinary sanctions on

Clubs that do not fulfill the obligations stipulated in this article.

18b Ownership of the economic rights of players by third parties

1. No club or player may sign a contract with a third party that grants

The third party has said the right to participate, partially or totally, in the value of a

Future transfer of a player from one club to another, or granting rights

Related to future signings or with the value of future signings.


The prohibition of apdo. 1 will enter into force on May 1, 2015.


The contracts that are affected by section 1, subscribed with

Prior to May 1, 2015, they will remain valid until their date of

Contract expiration. However, its validity can not be extended.


The duration of the agreements referred to in paragraph 1, signed between the

January 1, 2015 and April 30, 2015, may not exceed one year at

Start from the date of its entry into force.


At the end of April 2015, all current contracts affected by the

Section 1 should be registered in the TMS. All clubs that have signed

These types of contracts must be fully charged -including

Possible annexes and amendments - in the TMS, specifying the data of the third

Involved, the full name of the player and the duration of the contract.


The Disciplinary Committee of FIFA may impose disciplinary measures

Clubs and players who do not fulfill the obligations stipulated in this



Definition of "third parties" by the retj, point 14


"Third is the party outside of the two clubs between which a player is transferred, or any of the previous clubs in which the player was previously registered."

Even the footballer himself is considered third to whom the prohibition is also applied. In other words, the player is prevented from participating in his own transfer to collect a percentage of the Economic Rights he generates.


Last decisions of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee on third party regulations


The FIFA Disciplinary Committee decided in its last session that players should not be considered "third parties" according to definition 14 and art. 18b of the Regulation on the Statute and Transfer of Players (RETJ).

In four different cases, the clubs Werder Bremen (Germany), Panathinaikos (Greece), CSD Colo-Colo (Chile) and Universitario de Deportes (Peru) signed contracts with some of their players that conferred on the latter (that is, on the players) the right to receive a specific compensation (a fixed amount or a percentage) for his future transfer to another club.

The amounts promised to the players were considered part of the remuneration owed under the contracts with their clubs. In this regard, the FIFA Disciplinary Committee found that players can not be considered third parties with respect to their future transfers and, therefore, the fact that they receive a specific compensation, either in the form of a fixed amount or a percentage his future transfer to a new club is not considered a violation of FIFA regulations on economic rights of players by third parties.


The Tevez case


In the year 2007 the English club West Ham makes a contract with Media Sports Investment (MSI) recognizing that the entire economic rights of the player belonged to the company.

In other words, the company was the one that decided on a future sale of Tevez.

When the player is sold and these contracts are known, FIFA sanctions the club with a multi-million dollar fine, but no points deduction.

As a result of this case is that FIFA decides to change the rules so that similar cases do not happen.

In December of the year 2007, Article 18a was established in the RETJ (influence of third parties in the clubs).






1. A special regime for the creation of the Argentine Football Association is created

Annotation and file of transfers of economic benefits derived from transfers

Authorized by art. 14 of the law 20.160.

1.1. The cession must be recorded, with individualization of the club contract and

Footballer to whose transfer the economic benefit is conditioned.

1.2. In case of non-compliance in the annotation, the members of the board of directors of the

Transferring Club will be responsible under the terms of art. 6th, inc. b), sub 2º) of the Statute-AFA.

2. They may be holders of economic rights over the product produced by transfer

From the contract of professional football players to natural persons - even their own

Athlete- or legal entities regularly constituted, all in accordance with legal, statutory and

Regulatory Under no circumstances may the exercise of such economic rights affect the

Freedom of work of the athlete, and any contractual provision to the contrary is void.

If the player retains a fixed amount and / or a percentage of a future transfer,

It will correspond to comply with the same precautions as those established for the

Assignment (except those indicated in point 8, sub a), sub b), sub d) and sub i) of this regime). The

Club will be oblivious to the legal business carried out by the player with third parties regarding

Of the economic benefits withheld.

2.1. Such rights will result in a liquid profit sharing on the result

Economic that produces the transfer between clubs of football players contracts


2.2. This benefit must remain at a minimum of 30% (thirty percent) in

Head of the club in which the contract is registered under the terms of Law 20.160. 2.3. The transfer of economic rights by their private holders may only result in

Favor of the club in which the contract of the player in question is registered, except that

The institution expresses agreement of the assignment to third parties (in writing, indicating the

Participation ceded, the data of the new assignee and the economic guidelines). The new assignment

It must strictly comply with the obligations resulting from this regime.

2.4. The transferred economic rights may be subject to shared ownership.

The holders of percentages of economic rights ceded share the same degree.

3. Conflicts of interest between the club and the third party holder of rights assignment

Economic does not affect the employment contract entered into under the terms of Law 20.160 and the

CCT 430/75.

4. Transfers or assignments of the work contract, regulated in articles 14 and 15,

Law 20.160 and Article 9 Collective Labor Agreement No. 430/75, are governed by the

Decision of the holder of the registration of the contract subscribed in the terms of the

Article 3 of the Statute of the Professional Footballer.

5. The special regime that is implemented by the present only reaches the qualification

Extrinsic of the instrument prior to its annotation, regardless of the genetic cause of

Legal business.

6. The presentation for the annotation and / or modification in AFA of the ownership of the

Transfer of the economic rights indicated in point 1. It must come from the club in which

The player's sports rights are registered (article 3 Law 20.160).

6.1. The institution may not transfer to third parties and / or waive said obligation.

6.2. It must accompany: a) the assignment instrument with individualization of the contract / s

With the player / s, their validity and percentage of benefits transferred; b) instruments according to

It is determined in the following points 7 and 8.

7. It is the responsibility of the club that makes the presentation: a) accompany certified copy by

Public notary public of the minutes of his Board of Directors by which the transfer of the

Economic right to register; b) enter the registration within the term of thirty (30) days

Corridos since the signing of the assignment agreement; c) responsibility for the accuracy of the

Data consigned there; d) the authorization to the AFA to give publicity by the means that this

Consider the cession, its parts, its economic terms and any other data that arises from the instrument that is to be noted and filed.

8. The assignee is responsible for: a) declaring knowledge of the legal, conventional and

Regulations regarding the temporary extension of contracts and the loss of rights

Of the club on the same by its expiration or any other causal with scope to the freedom

Of recruitment of the soccer player; b) declare to know exactly the terms that the contract

Valid between the club and the player for whom the transfer of benefits is made

Economic for its transfer; c) authorize the AFA to publicize, by any means,

The legal transaction of assignment, its parts, its economic terms and any other data that

Emerge from the instrument that is to be annotated and filed; d) at your expense and expense

Compliance with the obligations that correspond to social security (Decree 1212

PEN and its regulations), administrative expenses and, finally, any other that could

Correspond to the moment in which the assignment is made. The documents emanating from the transferee

They must be: i) legal persons: with the adjunction of the instruments that accredit the

Legal personality and its representation, duly certified; ii) individuals: with

Certified signature

9. Within the framework of what is required by Article 6 paragraph d) sub 1) of the Statute of AFA and

By the General Accounting Plan approved accordingly, and in accordance with the provisions

For the particular professional technical standards for non-profit entities, each

Institution must present, as complementary information to the financial statements

Basic, as an annex and with the pertinent clarifying notes, a state of evolution of the

Intangible assets, specifying those corresponding to the assignment of economic benefits -or

Your guarantee- by transfer of contract with detail of: a) transfer percentages; b)

Transferees with sufficient data for their individualization; c) initial balances, variations and

Final balances and d) separation of the original values ​​of accumulated depreciation.

10. The Argentine Football Association will proceed to reject the annotation when it is not

Comply with all the precautions established in the present regime and those that

They may be required in the regulation.

11. The regime that is hereby established as of the date of its

Approval by the H. Executive Committee.

12. In order to start up the information process according to the previous article, the

Institutions reached by this regime must submit until December 28 of

2005 a status statement of the transfers made regarding their relationship with players

Professionals, with details of the extremes (percentages, fixed sums, conditions and, finally,

When another data is of interest to communicate). Said presentation shall be made in the nature of

Affidavit, which must be signed by the statutory authorities authorized to the

Effect.- In case of non-compliance with said presentation, the AFA will proceed to reject

Future annotations of transfers of economic benefits derived from transfers of

Contracts of soccer players.

NOTE: The aforementioned resolution was unanimously approved.




Special bulletin 3819 was written because it was increasingly difficult to determine the rights holder since the legal appearance was not always revealing of the true economic situation.

The aim was to combat clandestinity and publicize these acts, so that a procedure of annotations of holders of transfer of economic rights is created on the proceeds of the transfers of the players, or when the exit serves as a guarantee, a archive.

This regime tended to receive the documents referring to the rights that they transmit, as well as to regulate them.













Article 1 - The contracts that are celebrated from May 1, 2015, inclusive, may grant economic rights only to a football club or the professional soccer player involved, not being able to grant third parties the right to participate, partial or completely, the value of the future transfer of a player from one club to another or grant rights related to future transfers or the value of future transfers.



The subjects - clubs or players - obliged to act as information agents and, where appropriate, retention, in accordance with the provisions of the General Resolutions in force, will continue to inform in accordance with the provisions of said regulations, bearing in mind that such contracts may grant economic rights only to a football club or the professional soccer player involved.



Art. 2 - This Federal Administration, for the purposes of the control, will carry out computer crossings with the information referred to the contracts in force on April 30, 2015, that the "International Federation of Football Association" (FIFA) has registered in the System Transfer Correlation (TMS).




This resolution makes it impossible for the economic rights of the players to be in the hands of third parties.

This occurs within the framework of Article 18b incorporated by FIFA, in which no club or player may sign a contract granting third parties the right to participate in the value of a future transfer of a player from one club to another, or grant rights related to future signings or to the value of future signings.

The objective of the resolution is to make soccer operations more transparent by strengthening the finances of the clubs, ensuring their social purpose. It seeks to avoid maneuvers, optimizing control measures.

Likewise, resolution 3374 of AFIP establishes an information regime in charge of AFA and the clubs of first A and National B.

Also the AFIP establishes a procedure for the registration of the transfers of the federative and economic rights of the players.

Resolution 3376 of AFIP creates the "dynamic payroll of sports tax havens", this payroll is available on the institutional website of the AFIP.This agency must be informed of the disengagement of the professional player of the club in which he provided services.



Collective agreement of the soccer player 557/2009 article 8.6



6) It is totally and absolutely forbidden, under penalty of insanitable nullity, the cession of contracts of professional soccer players or rights included in them, or of services or "passes" of soccer players -professionals or amateurs- in favor of natural persons or of companies or legal persons or ideals or entities of any kind that do not intervene directly in the dispute of soccer tournaments organized by the AFA, or of the leagues affiliated to it. The nullity of the assignment, which will eventually be carried out in violation of this prohibition, must be declared by the AFA or, as the case may be, by the Labor Courts, and it will also import the automatic termination of the transferor's link with the transferor. footballer and the freedom of contracting or action of this, with the right to conclude contract or registration with the entity of his choice, the country or abroad.





In Brazil, the 12395 law of 2011 establishes in article 27-R the nullity of the contracts signed between the clubs and third parties, or between these and the athletes, except when it is the object of an agreement or collective work agreement.

In Colombia, the Federation updated its regulations in the sense of prohibition. It even reaches the players who in their own transfer can only receive 8% of that value as an economic participation.

In Uruguay, President Tavarè Vazquez signed a decree - a law that prevents institutions from assigning the rights of athletes to an employer or institutions without legal status recognized by the state. The regulations block bridge passes and apply sworn statements for transfers. The penalties for non-compliance reach the disaffiliation.

In Spain, the RFEF adheres to the prohibition through circular 48, which reminds its members of articles 18 bis and 18 ter of the RETL.

In the case of England, the change was not great since it was adapted to this new regulation for years.



The widespread non-compliance with the prohibition


Beyond the intentions of UEFA and FIFA, the economic participation of third parties in football remains a common practice.

Economic rights have been prohibited by law but in reality they are one of the most important sources of resources for many clubs in many countries.

It is in daily use that clubs and players give to third parties partially or totally the economic rights.

In general, football federations allow by default this way of financing soccer.

They close their eyes to this reality as a mechanism to alleviate the serious economic crisis that clubs go through.

The clubs continue to give these rights to finance their institutions.

In other words, the FIFA regulations have been ineffective and inefficient in eradicating third parties and that they benefit from the profits produced by football.

The prohibition appears as an exaggeration because if the objective was transparency, it was enough to regulate, control and sanction.

The FIFA regulation reached to regulate, without prohibiting. What is not clear is a generalized and exemplary sanctioning control.

Also, we can think, that the prohibition widens the gap between rich and poor clubs, because the latter used this mechanism to retain top players and sustain their sporting activities.

The idea that what football produces must remain in football, has not been able to sustain.

In Europe, economic investment in football does not stop growing.

Mutual funds, companies, even some States, buy shares of clubs that are Sports Public Limited Companies.

Investment from China, Russia, Arab Countries etc. They inject exorbitant capital into soccer. It would give the impression that far from being an inflationary bubble more powerful actors have come to this sport to stay.

In countries such as Argentina, where football is organized through non-profit civil societies, private money comes in from all sides, with the problem that these investments can not be transparent.

Before the FIFA ban, private companies entered football through management, as was the case with many football clubs.

These managers were true agents of management when the clubs went bankrupt, and were charged with a percentage or all of the economic rights of the players.

After the ban, the managers in Argentina have lost interest in the football administration business.


In Mexico or Colombia, the money that comes to football, in some cases, is of dubious origin and this sport ends up serving as money laundering, something that FIFA has clearly wanted to avoid.

Between the years 1980 and 1990 it is assumed that money was paid into football that came from the drug cartels, to the point that the Mexican Football Federation in 2003 disaffiliated Queretaro, related to organized crime.

Some owners of football clubs were discovered as linked to the drug and that relationship, beyond the new regulations, seems not to have been cut.

The transfer of players is an attractive tool for money laundering.

However, the mechanisms to solve it have not yet been found.

The sanctions for violating the prohibition of economic rights, as we have seen, has been punctual, and has not served as a corrective

In Latin America, the cessation of the flow of private capital will undoubtedly generate an economic crisis in most clubs, but control mechanisms are needed to ensure the legitimacy of the funds.

In Europe, investment funds have revolutionized the finances of leagues such as French, English, Spanish, German, etc.

The Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), created in 2005 by Emir Khalifa Al-Thani, owner of the Frances PSG club, is the one who invests the oil and gas funds of the state of Qatar.

Actors like these are those who have come to football to pay multi-million dollar contracts and generate a new dimension in football finance.

It is evident that the prohibition generates underground issues such as the purchase of clubs that work, even as sports tax havens.

It's time to think about new rules, more rigorous controls, and a jurisprudence according to the times that football lives