FOOTBALL’S European governing body Uefa and players’ union FifPro have joined forces to lobby the European Commission to outlaw the controversial practice of third-party ownership (TPO).
TPO – when a player’s transfer value is owned in full or part by a speculating investor – is already banned at all levels in England, having gained notoriety through the Carlos Tevez affair in 2007.
World governing body Fifa has agreed to implement a worldwide ban on TPO from the start of next month, but Spanish and Portuguese leagues, where it is common, have appealed to the EC to block the move in Europe.
Uefa and FifPro’s latest move is a bid to counter that challenge, having previously found the EC amenable to supporting other legally contentious measures, such as financial fair play (FFP).
Gianni Infantino, Uefa’s general secretary, said yesterday that TPO was “a kind of modern slavery” and called on the EC to “investigate and declare [it] illegal”. Spanish and Portuguese supporters of TPO have argued that it allows poorer clubs to compete with bigger rivals, as they can acquire players without paying all of their transfer fee.
West Ham were fined £5.5m for signing Argentina striker Tevez using TPO when against Premier League rules and, when his goals kept them up at the expense of Sheffield United, agreed to pay the Blades £20m in compensation after a two-year legal fight.
Uefa’s plea to the EC is a test of their closeness now that Dane Margrethe Vestager has replaced Spaniard Manuel Almunia as competition commissioner.
Almunia was seen as interested in football and sympathetic to Uefa president Michel Platini but was succeeded by Vestager, Denmark’s former economic minister and the inspiration for the character of Birgitte Nyborg in hit television show Borgen, late last year.
TPO: HOW IT WORKS
■ TPO is when someone other than a club owns all or part of a players’ economic rights or transfer value
■ Investors effectively gamble that their player’s value will increase and have the same effect on their stake
■ Fifa is set to implement a global ban on TPO, which saw Carlos Tevez join West Ham in 2006, next month