How to Become a Football Agent

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The most common theme of questions we are asked by those reaching out to the Erkut Sogut Academy is for a “becoming a footballer’s agent” guide and the step by step pathway to “how to become a FIFA licensed football agent”. In this blog, we will provide a very basic explanation as to the necessary steps needed to be taken to formally begin a career as a football agent. (watch)

There are two different ways in which this question can be answered. Sometimes people are asking more about how to actually position yourself to begin as an agent; break into the industry; to find opportunities to represent players; find internships with agencies; earn a football agent’s salary; and how to be successful. However, sometimes those asking are more referring to the process one must go through before they obtain a FIFA football agent’s licence to actually begin operating as a football agent.

Step-by-Step Guide to Becoming a Football Agent

There is no set route to take to get into the agency business. Instead, there are a variety of possible ways of getting started in this industry that may set you on the right path. However, ultimately it is the ones who are willing to dedicate themselves to the industry, put in the greatest amounts of graft, learning and work, that will prevail in the end. Importantly, remember that this industry may require a significant volume of patience at the start. It may be slow to begin with but focus, ethical practice and hard-work will pay off and you will reap the rewards in the end.

Some possible ways of getting into the industry are as follows:

  • Internship, Job Application or Transitioning from Another Career

A common way into the footballing business is through applying for an internship or job at one of the larger agencies, either towards the end of your studies, or after completing them. Although these are naturally competitive, applying to as many as possible and trying to demonstrate your potential worth to them is pivotal.

Whilst the larger agencies may offer official internship schemes or ‘grad-role’ positions, it is still possible and sometimes a greater option to find an opportunity with a smaller agency. They may not advertise official roles but by using platforms such as LinkedIn and putting yourself out there by making phone calls, attending conferences and growing your network, you may be fortunate enough to be offered a form of internship or mentorship. The contacts you make through phone calls and experience could lead to all kinds of opportunities.

If you are unable to find an opportunity in a football agency, finding an internship or role with a sports-focused company in marketing, the commercial side, broadcasting, or with a club can be just as valuable. For example, if you are able to work within a club for a period of time, you will learn plenty about the football industry but more importantly, you will be spending time face-to-face with club officials, players and other important figures that may be able to help you as an agent one day.

If a job in the sports industry doesn’t work out this still does not mean the chances of transitioning to becoming a football agent are impossible. Many successful agents actually transfer over from mainstream professions, perhaps specialising in areas such as law, banking, journalism, business, marketing or teaching. Jobs like these, as well as so many others, are a great way into the world of sports as a player (and their representatives at the time) will always need the advice of specialists, for example in legal or financial matters that a lawyer or banker can provide respectively. If someone in these professions has the right contacts and is willing to dedicate themselves to a change in career, agency is a very realistic option for them. The transferable skills learned in their previous occupation will help greatly in succeeding as an agent. Two of the many cases of this is Pini Zahavi who transitioned from a journalist to an agent representing big names in football, and the late Jörg Neubauer, who started his career as a lawyer but turned into a prolific football agent, representing Leon Goretzka.

  • Attending Games

A good way to go about finding a possible first client could be by attending youth and lower league fixtures. Whilst you must always be aware of abiding by the rules and regulations surrounding youth players, often the first player you represent will be young and eager to work their way to the top divisions. Going to as many games as possible (and seeing a variety of teams) shows your desire to make your mark in the industry. It is also likely that other scouts, agents and most certainly, parents, will be at these games which creates a special opportunity to connect with them and broaden your network. 

As tempting as it may be to speak with anyone and everyone, you should always remain patient and professional, taking your time to research in order to make informed approaches and conversations. These games are unique opportunities to network that can be of great benefit. Whilst not all conversations can ever go as planned, if you go about it in the right way, most conversations will end with swapping contact details or the roots of a relationship. These can bring opportunities further down the line.

  • Conferences and Networking Events

Each year, there are a variety of networking and educational events in the football business calendar that aspiring agents should consider attending if at all possible. Whilst not all of these will specifically focus on football agency, talks on marketing and finance within the sport can still provide crucial details that a good agent requires. The most well-known event organisers include the Football Agent & Business Summit, Leaders in Sport, Soccerex and the Wyscout Forum – these events (amongst others) are well worth going to. Events such as these tend to attract great speakers from a variety of sectors, and they can provide you with interesting and useful skills, information, and experience.

The greatest attraction of these events, particularly now that they are back in-person following the COVID-19 pandemic, is the networking opportunity. You never know who you might meet and what opportunities might arise from networking at these events. Some events allow you to see the guest list before attending. It is good practice to look through the list of attendees and make a thorough assessment of some specific networking targets. 

  • Family Member or Friend of a Player

For family members and friends, it is a very common occurrence in football for a close relative of the player to act as their agent. Employing family members as agents was first brought into the public spotlight in 1999 with Nicolas Anelka’s move from Arsenal to Real Madrid which was orchestrated by his brothers. In recent times, it has become increasingly common with players such as the star trio Neymar, Mbappe and Messi all represented by their fathers. Given the extremely slim chances of falling into this category, you should bear in mind that family members will nearly always seek and receive help and advice from more qualified and educated agents behind the scenes but this could be an avenue into the profession.  

Step-by-Step Guide to Getting a FIFA Football Agent License

Once you break into the industry in one of the many ways listed above, you will have to obtain a FIFA Football Agent License under the new FIFA Football agent Regulations introduced in January 2023, before you are able to actually operate and provide services legally as an agent. This process is as follows:

  • Step 1: Comply with eligibility prerequisites

An applicant must first complete a licensing application via the FIFA or National Association platform. Part of this process outlines the eligibility requirements that a candidate must comply with. This includes details such as possessing no criminal record and other ‘proper persons tests’.

NOTE: These requirements must also remain to be complied with throughout the entire period of time that the individual operates as an agent. Failure to do so will result in a revocation of an agent’s licence.

These eligibility requirements are set out below:

  • No false or misleading statements within the candidate’s application.
  • Zero criminal charges and convictions regarding all matters. 
  • Must not be a recipient of a suspension, disqualification or striking off order by a sporting governing body or regulatory authority. 
  • No record of failure to comply with rules relating to ethics and professional conduct.
  • Must not be an official or employee of FIFA, a confederation, National Association, League, Club or any body that represents the interests of clubs. (The only exception to this is where an applicant has been appointed or elected to a body of one of these entities in a capacity of representing the interests of Football Agents).
  • Must not hold any interest in a club, academy or league.
  • Must not have been performing the services of a football agent without a licence prior to submitting their application.
  • Must never have been personally bankrupt or been a majority shareholder in a business that declared bankruptcy, entered administration or undergone liquidation.
  • Must not have been a part of a sports betting company or organisation in the year preceding the application.
  • FIFA are responsible themselves for investigating compliance with these requirements.
  • Step 2: Pass the exam 

FIFA’s new regulations demand that individuals wishing to obtain an agency licence must pass the newly formatted exam. In summary, the exam takes places as follows:

  • Candidates that are confirmed as eligible will be invited to attempt the examination in their National Association allocated venue.
  • Candidates pay a fee which varies country-to-country to take the exam and provide proof of payment.
  • The exam is open book and is structured as 20 multiple choice questions regarding six FIFA official documents known as the “FIFA study materials”.
  • You must achieve a score of 75% or above in order to pass this exam (15 correct answers).
  • Step 3: Licensing fee

Once the exam has been passed, the candidate will then be able to pay the annual licence fee of $600 to FIFA. This fee will be paid directly to FIFA rather than to National Associations. This is also useful as the fee is set universally rather than whimsically being selected by these associations. It is the responsibility of the agent to ensure that they pay this fee and can provide proof of payment upon request from the governing bodies.

  • Step 4: Receiving your licence

Once the above steps have been satisfied, you will be issued your licence. It is important to remember that this is your licence only and cannot be transferred to others. This will remain valid as long as the eligibility criteria is met and annual licence fees are paid. This licence grants you the capacity of conducting the services of a football agent and authorises you to enter into representation agreements with clients globally.

Summary This blog may be useful as a “how to become a football agent” guide, providing a succinct summary of the different pathways into the industry as well as the process of obtaining a licence to legally operate as an agent. For more details and further reading, we would recommend following in text links and following our educational platform social media channels @erkutsogutacademy.

by Dr. Erkut Sogut & Jamie Khan

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