In a story which many soccer fans I am sure did not notice or much less know is a topic of discussion, FIFPro — the international players union/organization which includes the 55 player associations/unions that exist — came out with a list of demands in order to promote transparency with regards to the transfer market. One of its suggestions was in asking that third party player ownership of players being universally eliminated and disbanded.
The following day, UEFA President Michel Platini followed suit and underlined his desire to eliminate third party ownership throughout all of UEFA. For those who are unaware, third party ownership of a player means that some middleman — for lack of a better term — owns a certain percentage of a player’s rights. Therefore, if said player is sold they are compensated whatever percentage they own of said player’s transfer fee. Third party ownership of players is something very common in South America given that many clubs are able to survive because of third party ownership.
Just after Platini came out stating this opinion, former Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) sporting director Leonardo spoke out criticizing Platini for his comments. Frankly, I cannot say I disagree with Leonardo as I do feel that Platini’s comments were made by someone who was speaking from atop his ivory tower perch where he sits from at the UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland. The fact of the matter is that given the economic realities facing many clubs around the world, including a growing number within Europe, third party ownership of a player is the only solution teams have in order to retain or bring in players.
Yes, there are some holes and certain individuals who abuse and operate in the shadows while doing shady business with regards to their involvement in third party ownership of a certain player. That said, third party ownership as pointed out by Leonardo, has developed and filled a vacuum that the international transfer market place, along with economic mismanagement of some clubs, to be able to conduct business of a physical asset which in this case takes form of a soccer player.
Before Platini pushes on the issue of third party ownership he must first push UEFA, its member associations, and the teams in Europe to start developing, implementing, and practicing better business practices, i.e. operate within their means. After all it was Platini himself who has been a big proponent of Financial Fair Play (FFP) Regulations. If he really sees third party ownership as being the scrooge that he claims it to be, pushing and making clubs adhere to FFP would go along way in European clubs having to rely on third party ownership based deals and arrangements.
Another point which Leonardo was spot on was in highlighting how third party ownership of players is common practice in South America, a continent where many of Europe’s best players who entertain us week in and week out in league and Champions League play come from. It is very naive and in many ways hypocritical for Platini to get involved in how business is done outside of Europe as that is not his area of governance. Again, it is very easy from his ivory tower to speak about one part of the transfer market without offering any solutions to address the “issue” as a whole.