How can we save football from player agents?

ARDA ALAN IŞIK
ISTANBUL
Published 21.07.2019 00:28

Today four football agents are responsible for every big transfer in European football: Pini Zahavi, Jorge Mendes, Mino Raiola and Abdilgafar Ramadani. You may have never heard these names before, but chances are these people created the 95 percent of the squad of your favorite team. Unlike the common belief, teams do not scan the transfer market regularly for good players; it is these agents who offer their players to teams. In other words, teams are like customers in a restaurant, and the player agents are the waiters who bring the menu to the table. Thus, apart from some individual efforts by coaches or scout crew, teams are essentially built by player agents, who earn money by continuously selling and buying players.

This means that higher the price of the player, the higher the number written on the player agent's check. That is why certain names are always on the transfer list while there are probably thousands of players are available on the market. The process occurs roughly like this: If you are an executive with lots of money, you hire a sporting director and the sporting director makes a deal with a player agent to build a squad. The agent, leaving all other good options out, keeps offering certain players with high transfer fees and salaries so that he can earn more. The sporting director, who is ordered to get "high-quality" players by the executives, does not take the risk of losing time looking for other options and moves on with list given to him by the agent. Finally, due to the shrinking value of Turkish football, expired players make their last stop in Turkey before moving to Gulf countries, earning two or three times more while playing two to three times less.

Now, it is clear that this cycle cannot be broken without holding club executives legally accountable for their actions since they force sporting directors to set short-term goals and then player agents become a necessity. Nevertheless, this does not mean that Turkish football cannot create an oasis in this desert.

Altınordu, the team that raised the likes of Cengiz Ünder and Çağlar Söyüncü, has been an alternative to this system for decades. However, because they cannot preserve their squad long enough to get good results, they could not get promoted to the Süper Lig to prove everyone that they do not need player agents to win. If they had been better protected by regulations, recently they lost players again due to technical details in their contracts; they could have been a great example for the future of Turkish football.

Seeing as it is financially game over for Turkish football, the people who run this business must acknowledge this fact and create an alternative to this player agent dystopia. For this, Turkey already has a good example like Altınordu and all it needs are better regulations and more rewards for their hard work on youth. Even if we cannot change the system completely, we can show that the corrupt practice of relying on player agents' is not the only way.

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