JOHANNESBURG – Now facing prosecution after they were summoned to the Competition Tribunal by the Competition Commission, South Africa’s football agents – under the banner SAFIA, a 37-member association formed by the same player representatives – say they will file a written affidavit contesting the accusations.
The Competition Commission on Tuesday confirmed that it had launched an investigation into the dealing of agents when negotiating contracts for players and coaches in the Premier Soccer League.
It said it found that they had “fixed prices and trading conditions” and would therefore be prosecuted for colluding and not sticking to the recommended 3 percent.
“The allegations made by the Competition Commission are vehemently denied and SAFIA will proceed to object to the referral to the Tribunal. An answering affidavit will be filed within the stipulated time period,” the agents said in a statement late on Wednesday.
More than two years ago, Safa president Danny Jordaan announced that there would be a new commission rule of 3 percent instead of the usual 10, one which prominent player agents in the country immediately challenged.
They claimed it would change the landscape of SA football and dent their pockets, and they reiterated their standpoint again this week.
“The formation of SAFIA was brought about by the Safa decision of March 27, 2015 to implement a commission fixed at 3%. The conduct of Safa led to the formation of SAFIA, who deemed Safa’s conduct anti-competitive.
“The Gauteng High Court was approached, and an interdict was granted against Safa in that they were restrained from implementing the regulations as adopted on the March 27, 2015,” their statement read.
Agents are breaking their silence following the revelations made by the Competition Commission on Tuesday that there was a bitter court battle ensuing.
Many of them would not speak on the record this week as the matter was under sub judice.
But the gloves are now off.
“It was SAFIA that lodged a complaint with the Competition Commission on July 7, 2015 based on the old Safa regulations relating to intermediaries, which capped the commission at 3%. The old regulations have since been amended to reflect that intermediaries can charge a commission between 3% up to 10%.
“SAFIA is flabbergasted by the turn of events in that they are now cited as respondents, despite all that.
“SAFIA will continue to defend the rights of its members to earn a living as set out in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa,” the strongly-worded statement read further.
The agents also denied the claim from the Commission’s investigation that they use SAFIA to collude and charge their clients exorbitant fees.
“There has never been an agreement by SAFIA members to charge 10%. The documents submitted to the Competition Commission reflect that members of SAFIA charge clients various amounts, which vary from 0% to more than 10% per transaction.
“In the South African context, the commercial contacts are so limited to an extent that it is practically impossible to earn a 20% commission on commercial contracts.
There has been no price fixing by SAFIA or its members, consumers were never forced to pay a particular price without an effort of adding value,” they said.
“Therefore, SAFIA as an organisation was never used as a vehicle for collusion. Transactions are based on variables and will vary from one transaction to another.
“SAFIA was set up two years ago, and agents all over the world have been charging 10% for decades, which clearly demonstrates SAFIA was not set up in order to collude.”