On March 23, 2020, Italy's Ministry of Sport issued a new legislation ("the Decree") which amends rules governing the qualification and registration of agents and opens the door for a future review of the current regulations in force by the Italian Football Association (FIGC) and the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI).
Most importantly, Article 7 of the Decree now provides that any intermediary services by individuals/entities not enrolled with their applicable sports federation ("Register") will result in the underlying agreement between such agent and his/her principal, being null and void.
This is in stark difference with the 2018 version of the law which, in similar situations, also voided (i) the player's relevant employment agreement, (ii) the player's transfer agreement, and (iii) the player's membership in a national professional sports association.
In addition to the above, Article 11 of the Decree clarifies the rules applicable to intermediaries registered with federations or football associations of other nations who seek registration in Italy ("Foreign Agents"). In a nutshell:
- Foreign Agents may request registration with the relevant Italian sports association within a special section of the Federal Register. The exact language used by the Decree refers to "Italian citizens or citizens of another member state of the European Union authorized [to operate as agents] in another member state". On the other hand, the 2018 version simply referred to "Citizens of the European Union authorized in another member state";
- The relevant Italian sports association must ensure that the applicant is authorized to operate "in another Member State of the European Union and within the corresponding national sports association of that country". On the other hand, the 2018 wording stated "within the sports association of the country of origin";
- Foreign Agents qualifications to operate in another country must result in them having passed exams equivalent to those provided for in the Decree. However, this may lead to procedural and implementation issues as it is not clear how the equivalence of such foreign examinations or application requirements will be objectively scrutinized;
- When CONI receives confirmation of registration from the relevant sports association, it may "proceed(s) within thirty days with the registration in a specific section of the National Register, unless a preliminary investigation is carried out". According to the 2018 version instead, there was no deadline for CONI, since it was the relevant association who had 30 days to communicate to CONI the registration in the special section of the Federal Register.
Despite this attempt to clarify certain provisions on agents regulations, such a legal response may not be sufficient to solve several enforcement issues that stakeholders have encountered over the last year. Consequently, a further step to simplify and elucidate the applicable rules is still awaited.
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