Working with Sports Media and Football Journalists as an Agent

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More so than ever, the press has an incredible influence upon football and its players. Social media has given rise to the phenomenon of fake news and these stories are accessible at the tap of a button on our phones. News comes from all kinds of sources and freedom of speech means that they can write almost anything. Whether it is fiction or not has little significance for some journalists who are paid to create headlines that people will want to read. 

The press also creates opportunities. For agents, as well as safeguarding and defending clients in the face of negative media and news stories, true or otherwise, is imperative. As is developing good relationships with journalists and other professionals involved in the industry. It can be of benefit sometimes and makes protecting clients easier whilst also possibly helping to open up certain avenues the agent is looking towards to further their clients’ careers. 

Who are football journalists?

Journalists that operate within the world of football often have an academic background with qualifications from universities and other higher education. They are particularly skilled in expressing strong opinions through powerful words. Many sports journalists begin through freelance work and internships, or in another part of the industry. As they produce riveting pieces and become increasingly popular for their insightful work, they begin to grow in profile. Their work becomes even more widely read and will cover all kinds of aspects of the game, often covering controversial areas and creating wider debate. Ultimately, it is important to know that the job of a sports journalist is to create eye-catching headlines and articles that people want to read. This is worth bearing in mind.

The relationship between football and the media

Whereas with social media, a content-driven audience requires players to post frequently, interviews and media work as such requires a more nuanced approach. The story behind an agent’s client’s rise from the dream of becoming a footballer to the reality in which they find themselves can only be repeated a limited number of times, so accepting every interview request or opportunity isn’t the best thing to do. It is of course a positive to have a player or coach client in the public eye spreading positive messages but the last thing an agent wants to do is devalue the worth of their client’s comments or story. 

Depending upon the calibre of the client, it is recommended that the agent does due-diligence and research on news platforms and chooses perhaps the most appropriate but well-known newspapers or interviewers in order to attract the biggest audiences. In addition, timing is a crucial factor for agents to consider as well. If a client finds themselves in a difficult situation, instructing them to go straight to the press to defend themselves isn’t always the best approach. Agents need to understand when it is appropriate to let the situation settle a little, remove any emotion that may lead a client to speak recklessly, and then make a decision wisely. Agents can also step in as a protective shield when this is called for. If there are negative circumstances or criticism surrounding the player, the agent can work with the press to reposition themselves as the ‘scapegoat’, diverting the blame onto them and alleviating it away from the player. If done properly and efficiently, the poor publicity will reflect upon the agent rather than the player. It is a necessary sacrifice for agents to best serve their clients. A well-documented example of such behaviour by an agent is from the late Mino Raiola who occasionally placed himself in front of his players to protect them.

Contrastingly, if the player is playing brilliantly and is grabbing headlines it may then be productive and beneficial to participate in interviews. Agents need to understand that the voice of a client being heard across news platforms will make them more relatable and boost interaction with fans. An agent must also make sure that whilst it is important for them to speak authentically, there must also be a level of media training to prevent any detrimental impact of interviews. Saying the wrong thing at the wrong time can, in extreme cases, even be career-ending. Interviews can take place in a number of different forms and different times, and in cases where an agent cannot be present (for example a pre- or post- match interview), it is even more crucial that the agent guides their player or coach client in how to conduct themselves in an appropriate way.

Newspaper or magazine interviews are of course much more controllable. Here, it is the agent’s responsibility to provide the client with prior knowledge of the questions to ensure that they are prepared to give positive and clear answers. This is why having last authorisation on the questions, as well as the power to dictate the article headline, is something that agents will always seek before putting clients in such a position. 

Another interview format is through social media channels; perhaps as a live Instagram or Facebook session or a Twitter Q&A. Especially in live sessions and Q&A’s, there is a feeling of direct engagement and interaction with the fanbase which can be a positive thing. However, as these are often live, the player must also be cautious as once it is seen and heard by anyone, it is unrecoverable. Speaking badly about their club, other players or managers for example, is an absolute no.

Global sporting news outlets and social media platforms


Below is a table that outlines some of the best known and most widely read or viewed news platforms and producers in each of the key football countries.


Sports news outlets


BBC Sport, Sky Sports, FourFourTwo, LADbible, BT Sport, The Athletic


11 Freunde, Kicker, DW Sports, Sky Sports


L’Équipe, France Football, Le Monde


Marca, AS, Sport, Estadio Deportivo


La Gazzetta dello Sport, Corriere dello Sport, Tuttosport


A Bola, O Jogo, Record


Voetbalzone, Voetbal International, Voetbal Primeur, FC Update


ESPN, Bleacher Report, Sports Illustrated


Fanatik, Fotomaç


SBS World Game, Fox Sports, The Daily Telegraph, Herald Sun


ESPN, BolaVIP, SporTV, Gazeta de Alagoas, Lance!, RJsports


HLN, het Nieuwsblad


Kronen Zeitung, Laola, SkySport


11 Freunde, Blick, SRF Sport


ESPN, Marca, Depor, Mediotiempo, Record, Excélsior


ArenaSport, SportKlub, Sportski Jurnal


This list is of course not exhaustive, and most mainstream newspapers have their own influential sports columns that are widely read. When choosing which news outlets would be most beneficial for your player to interview with, it is important to consider the audience which the organisation appeals to, in conjunction with the country or regions that it sells in.

For social media channels, the demographic of their audience and the unique type of news that they share is important to consider for agents. Some pages are known for creating ‘clickbait’ stories and it is best to avoid clients involving themselves with such a platform as it is likely their words will be manoeuvred or manipulated in order to create a better story or headline. Targeting sports or football-specific pages is a safer way of ensuring the intentions of the journalists are purely for footballing reasons and aimed towards football fans. 

Working with journalists

Knowing which journalists to trust is something that all agents find difficult at some point and is a part of the profession that agents will learn as they go. As an agent, it is part of the role to receive endless calls asking about the future of clients, with many journalists cleverly phrasing questions in the hope of capturing snippets of information. Therefore, agents always have to be cautious, as any mistake could be costly and could harm a client’s career or image. However, this doesn’t mean that an agent should not pursue any relations with journalists, as they can be greatly effective in strengthening their stance as an agent when representing clients. Of course, relationships with journalists need to be mutually beneficial, and they’ll be looking to get some information back if they are helping the agent in return. This is normal practice and just how it is in most other interacting and overlapping professions and walks of life. 

Perhaps the best way to understand how journalists and agents can operate productively and professionally together for a common purpose is to consider some examples. The following scenarios are case when journalists can be really important to an agent and their clients:

  1. A client wants to move club: speaking with a trusted journalist contact to see if they know information that the agent may not (i.e. about the club’s intentions, or other players moving). Similarly, helping spread word of the positive impact a client has and their on-pitch performances is something that can be done.
  2. A client wants a new contract: much like the above scenario, the media contact can be very useful. An agent could come out on behalf of their player signalling their intentions to stay despite outside interest, and thus help spike some urgency from their current club and maybe even force the hand of outside interest to raise their interest and offer if they are particularly keen on the client. 
  3. A client is launching a business: off-pitch ventures are also newsworthy, and if an agent is trying to promote a new brand or business that the client has launched then they may be able to utilise a connection in the media to help share information and promote it. This may be an opportunity to do interviews or media work with a platform that is not just football-focused, depending on the nature of the business the player is launching.
  4. A client is supporting a charity: another newsworthy form of off-pitch activity is if a client is actively engaging with and raising awareness for charitable projects and campaigns. In order to enhance the positive impact a client is able to have upon the charitable organisation, promotion within the media will accentuate this and hence, the agent should make journalists aware of the valuable work the charity and the client are doing.


In summary, football journalism and the sports media are an integral part of modern day sport. They can have a profound impact on business dealings, transactions and opportunities in football. Hence, agents need to be able to understand how the sports media functions, their goals and how they may be able to align with journalists and the incentives to help work towards a common goal promoting the best interests of clients.  The best way of doing this is to build strong relationships and trusting professional working connections within the media.

by Dr. Erkut Sogut & Jamie Khan

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