FIFA’s Ethics Committee is investigating the transfer of Paul Pogba from Juventus to Manchester United. Last summer Pogba moved to United from the Italian giants for a record-breaking sum of £84.2 million. Leaked documents show that Pogba’s agent Mino Raiola was paid a total of £42 million by Juventus, Manchester United and Pogba.
According to The Guardian, Raiola was paid £22.7 million by Juventus for acting as an intermediary to “bid up the price” rather than as a sell-on commission. Reports also show that Raiola was also contracted by United to close the signing of Pogba “on terms acceptable for the club”. This represents a huge conflict of interest with Raiola being employed by one club to secure the highest possible deal and by another club to ensure the lowest possible sale price. United paid Raiola £16.34 million on top of the £84.2 million paid to Juventus.
The role of agents acting as intermediaries is becoming more widespread in professional football. Rather than purely representing players, agents are employed by clubs to put deals together. If both player and the clubs involved accept this then technically it cannot be accused of a conflict of interest.
The transfer has once again brought the notion of underhand deals and corruption in football back into the spotlight. A backlash has already begun with David Bernstein, former Football Association chairman, telling The Telegraph that whether or not the rules were flouted “things like this are liable just to reduce the level of enthusiasm that people have for the game.” With the prices of football increasing Bernstein believes this is the last thing fans want to read.
It is these types of dealings that have caused FIFA to be labelled corrupt and led to Sepp Blatter being forced out and investigated. The 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids caused the organisation a great deal of trouble over how the host nations were selected. The FIFA Ethics Committee is likely to use this investigation as proof that they are firm on investigating corruption.
Pogba has had a difficult first season at United as the team has struggled to consistently perform well. Yet football analyst Luke Moore, who is part of the in-house writing team covering the EPL and Champions League for Betfair believes that Pogba shouldn’t be classed as an expensive flop, as he’s played well under the pressure of his record breaking transfer fee. He also feels that Pogba will be a future leader at the club as his confidence increases. United are four points behind fourth place Manchester City and will likely have to reach the Champions League by winning the Europa Cup.
When questioned over whether the transfer could affect Pogba’s performance United manager Jose Mourinho replied: “the answer is simple. No.” A United spokesman also played down the incident saying: “We don’t comment on contracts, FIFA have had the documents since the transfer was completed last August.”
Whether Raiola broke the rules, bent the rules, or followed the rules it is clear that the public trust in how the sport is run has taken another hit. Money in football is becoming a dirty word and deals such as the Pogba transfer only add fuel to the fire of corruption.