x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

No Dubai deal, say football power brokers

Plans to establish Dubai as a hub of European football transfer activity have been met with scepticism.

The agent of Cristiano Ronaldo, above, Jorge Mendes, backed the forum as an event where the power brokers of football could meet.
The agent of Cristiano Ronaldo, above, Jorge Mendes, backed the forum as an event where the power brokers of football could meet.

DUBAI // Plans to establish Dubai as a hub of European football transfer activity have been met with scepticism. More than 50 of the continents' leading football agents met with representatives of the European Clubs Association [ECA], Fifa and Uefa at the inaugural Globe Soccer forum at The Address Dubai Mall this week to discuss, among other issues, the much-maligned international football transfer market.

Tommaso Bendoni, the Globe Soccer organiser, wants the event to develop into the location where all transfer deals are conducted in an effort to improve transparency. "We want Globe Soccer to be a tangible event where agreements can be finalised via discussions between players, agents, clubs and leagues," said Bendoni. "If football federations make themselves available to finalise agreements, then Globe Soccer can go from a meeting environment to a market arena."

However, the idea of agents thrashing out deals for clubs and players thousands of miles away during the hectic transfer window has, understandably, been dismissed by deal makers. "Besides being a logistical problem, it is simply not feasible," said Dr Gregor Reiter, the executive director of the German Football Agents Association. "The way the market is set up it would not work; some deals take weeks, other are done at the last minute.

"The European football transfer system is not like the draft system in the US." Davide Scapini, the Italian agent who represents several promising Serie A players, including Genoa captain Marco Rossi, also dismissed the concept. "It would be very difficult or maybe almost impossible to do," he said. Bruno Satin, the head of IMG's Football Division, added: "The concept already exists in Italy, where a transfer 'mercato' runs for the last three days in August," said.

"It's never been done at an international level before and the problem will be attracting the clubs: we'd need a minimum of 50 to 100 sports directors of top European teams. Only 10 attended. "It's a question of time and whether this event can become an established annual rendezvous. The Middle East is not officially a player market but a lot of clubs, players and agents are looking to develop their business regionally in places like Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE - it could work."

The idea that the event will become a place for the power brokers in the world of football transfer to convene and discuss topical issues does have support. "It's a good idea and it's always important to meet people and have discussions about important elements," said Jorge Mendes, who represents the Inter Milan manager, Jose Mourinho, and the Real Madrid forward, Cristiano Ronaldo. "The most important thing is to try to find the right way to work together and find the best solutions for everybody."

Giovanni Branchini, the agent who can boast the Brazilians, Ronaldo and Romario, among his former clients, concurred. "The idea is to create a wedding, a marriage for all the important issues of debate to be discussed and where the transfer market activity can be developed," he said. emegson@thenational.ae