Regulating agents’ activity

Objective: To improve transparency of the player transfer market

26.10.2011
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The new agent guidelines are meant to protect players from unethical business practices and they will bring agent activity in all countries up to the same level. Photo: Jukka Rautio / Europhoto

ZURICH – During the recent IIHF Semi-Annual Congress in Istanbul, member national associations were presented with the IIHF’s Ice Hockey Player Agent Guidelines. IIHF.com caught up with IIHF Legal Manager Ashley Ehlert, who elaborated on this new measure.

What is the objective behind these guidelines?

The main objective is to improve transparency within all aspects of the transfer market and to decrease the current problems (contract or otherwise) between players, clubs and agents. With an efficient monitoring and disciplinary system, along with strict standards and examination criteria that must be satisfied before anyone can become an Ice Hockey Player Agent, players will be protected from unethical business practices.

Why has the IIHF initiated these guidelines?

Unregulated player agent activity is detrimental to the sport and its integrity. The lack of oversight in the player-agent relationship recently led to a request from the European Union for international sports federations to initiate regulatory guidelines. The IIHF has initiated these guidelines for ice hockey as it is the only body in a position to regulate player agent activity in this sport.

What flaws exist under the current system?

At this time there is no international system of regulation. The IIHF and European Union has received numerous reports of unethical practices, such as agents taking payment of secret commissions in connection with player transfers, engaging in illegal activities and/or involvement with organized crime, and placing themselves in a conflict-of-interest situation by representing both the player and the club in negotiations. Some nations do have national systems, but the IIHF Guidelines will establish international standards that will help control international activity. The guidelines will in essence bring all agent activity in all countries up to the same level.

Considering the differences in regulations between nations, how will these guidelines be implemented within each of the national ice hockey bodies?

Each member national associations will create Agent Regulations in compliance with the IIHF Ice Hockey Player Agent Guidelines, taking into consideration national laws governing any prior relationships the member national associaiton has with certain groups already working with agents, e.g. player associations. However, the guidelines must meet the IIHF standards, so as to create a standardized international level of control over Player Agents, only deviating where necessary to comply with national laws.

So the control rests largely within the member national associations?

The control of the agent activity rest primarily with the member national associations, with the IIHF only getting involved when requested to do so by one of its members or if the issue has an international dimension. The Agent Program would operate in a manner very similar to the Transfer Program, where the IIHF only has jurisdiction when the issue is international in nature.

How do the national associations benefit?

Member national associations will be able to select player agents who demonstrate proper ethical business practices and ensure the best quality representation for players. The guidelines will also ensure that player agents are staying current on applicable law and national association rules and regulations. Players, clubs, and player agents will also be compelled to respect and fulfil all contract commitments, thereby reducing conflicts between these parties. Lastly, the guidelines will also create transparency in the player transfer market.

What sort of models were examined in preparing these guidelines?

When creating the guidelines, the IIHF analysed the unique aspects of the international ice hockey environment and then drew ideas from other major international federations (FIBA and FIFA) and other major sport leagues that best fit with this environment.

What sort of support did these guidelines receive at Congress?

The overall response at Congress was very positive. The delegates from our member countries seemed to recognize that a need to control agent activity exists and seemed to support the initiate to gain such control.

What is the next step?

It is very important to point out that the next step is for the member national associations to create their national regulations in compliance with the IIHF Guidelines. Therefore, our members should start creating their national regulations and can contact the IIHF for assistance at any time.

ADAM STEISS

The interview was printed in the newest Ice Times issue. Click here to download the IIHF's bi-monthly newsletter.


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