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How Football Agents Are Influencing the Beautiful Game

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Football Agents

On 17 June 2021, it was announced in the Mirror that Italian top-flight club ACF Fiorentina had parted ways with head coach Gennaro Gattuso after just 23 days in charge.

The decision sent shockwaves through the football world; not because of the brevity of his tenure but because of the revelations of disagreements between the club and Gattuso’s agent, Jorge Mendes, regarding recruitment policy.

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The club’s hierarchy thought they were simply signing a coach but in fact, they were also linking up with an agent intent on bringing his own clients to the club.

When Gattuso revealed this to his new bosses, it became clear that this concept clashed with their own transfer policy – and budget – and relationships began to break down.

The reluctance of the club to work with Mendes ended with Gattuso leaving the club and again highlighted the growing influence agents have on the game.

Wider Effects of Agent Behaviour

Gattuso’s sudden departures came as a blow to Fiorentina fans who have not had much luck with managerial appointments in recent years.

It may have also had a knock-on effect on punters who were looking to back Fiorentina to finish in the top six or to win a trophy under Gatusso.

Backing a team so early often means better odds, but it can also mean that unknown factors such as sudden player or managerial departures are not taken into account.

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A similar situation happened in 2016 when Lazio appointed Marcelo Bielsa only for the Argentine to quit two days later. Sometimes it is better to wait until the start of the season to see the bigger picture before wagering on outcomes. That’s where betting guides such as asiabet.org can be useful in helping punters decide where, when, and how to wager.

The other knock-on effect from this saga will be the financial cost to the club who will now have to begin a new recruitment process with less time available and other potential candidates now signed up elsewhere.

How an Agent Can Transform a Single Club

Jorge Mendes kick-started his career as a football agent when he began representing former Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo when he was still a player back in 1996. He had also been a long-time representative of Jose Mourinho who businesspost.ng recently reported had joined as the new coach of AS Roma.

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The Lisbon-born negotiator has since gone on to become one of the most powerful figures in the game. So much so, that his influence extends far beyond just brokering transfers. In 2016, he oversaw the recruitment of 12 players in six weeks to English Championship side Wolverhampton Wanderers after forming a close relationship with the club’s new owners.

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He also helped bring in Espirito Santo as head coach and together the pair transformed the club, bringing in many more of Mendes’ clients and achieving promotion and then consolidation in the Premier League. During this spell, the club’s transfer record was broken more than half a dozen times. No other club in the English top-flight has ever been so influenced by a single agent.

Treading a Fine Line

Before Wolves were promoted to the Premier League, the Football League (EFL) conducted an investigation into Mendes’s involvement but the club were cleared of any wrongdoing despite claims from other clubs that Mendes was working as a de facto Director of Football.

Under league rules, agents are not permitted to hold such roles at clubs. Despite the findings, there is no doubt that so-called “super agents” such as Mendes wield immense power in the modern game.

For Wolves the outcome was positive as the club returned to the top flight and finished 7th for two straight seasons, reaching an FA Cup semi-final in 2019 and the quarter-finals of the Europa League in 2020. This was followed by a 13th-place finish in 2020/21 after which Espirito Santo left the club.

Agents’ Influence over Players

A great example of the influence and power an agent can have over a single player is the transfer of Paul Pogba from Manchester United to Juventus. Sir Alex Ferguson was one of the most powerful figures in the game but even he could not prevent Pogba’s agent Mino Raiola from convincing the player to leave for Italy.

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Ferguson later used expletive terms to describe Raiola’s role in unsettling the player. As if to rub salt in the wounds, the same agent later sold Pogba back to the Red Devils for a world record fee of £89.3 million of which he pocketed a 40% commission fee.

Another super-agent, Pini Zahavi, introduced the concept of third-party ownership to the English game. The most famous example was Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano’s joint move to West Ham United in 2006. This practice, where investment groups buy and sell players’ rights like commodities, has since been banned by FIFA and the European Parliament but still exists in certain countries.

The influx of money into modern sport has made the role of the agent more crucial than ever. But there are genuine concerns about the amount of influence they hold over the players and whether they are truly acting in the best interests of their clients. In most cases, the player now has little influence over their own career paths and simply ends up signing whatever deal is most lucrative for their agent.

Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan. Mr Olowookere can be reached via dipo.olowookere@businesspost.ng

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Firm Gives NTA Rights to Broadcast Tokyo 2020 Olympics

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2021 Tokyo Olympics

By Adedapo Adesanya

Nigeria’s leading sports marketing and management company, Integral, has secured the exclusive rights to broadcast the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on free-to-air television.

As a result, the company will once again work with the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) Network to deliver all content on its free-to-air-platform

This sub-license deal comes from Infront, a Wanda Sports Group company and the International Olympics Committee (IOC) exclusive rights holder for free-to-air distribution rights in Sub-Saharan Africa. The deal is in addition to Integral’s existing Premier League sub-license free-to-air media rights agreement on NTA.

The exclusive package includes TV broadcasts of live events as well as repeats and highlights from the Olympics.

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As a result of the collaboration, over 200 hours of sporting content will be available on the NTA Network with 6 to 9 hours of daily content throughout the period of the Games from July 23 to August 8, 2021.

Speaking on the development, Mr Christophe Van Rothem, Infront Associate Director Media rights said: “Our objective is to maximize the reach of the Olympic Games 2020 and this partnership with our trusted partner Integral, will ensure we are able to bring this unique and thrilling event to millions of households in Nigeria.”

According to the Managing Director of Integral, Mrs Abimbola Ilo, “Following our partnership for the Premier League free-to-air rights, we are pleased to be working with Infront again to deliver high-quality sports moments to Nigerians.

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“This is an important avenue to showcase the talents and tell the stories of exceptional athletes as they compete on the world’s biggest stage in Tokyo.”

Also speaking on the deal, Mr Yakubu Ibn Mohammed, the Director-General of NTA stated, “As Nigeria’s most popular broadcaster, we are committed to delivering quality content to our viewers and proud to be partnering with Integral again on what promises to be yet another exciting sports event.

“With this partnership, we will once again be bringing the best of premium sports to the widest distribution in Nigeria,” he said.

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For Mrs Chichi Nwoko Integral’s Associate Director, Sports Rights and Media Partnership, she added, “We are happy to partner with Infront to bring another exciting major sports event to passionate Nigerian fans.

“As we add to our growing media rights catalogue, Integral is delighted to be at the centre of delivering live sports content to Nigerians yet again.”

Business Post understands that although the ceremony is officially to commence today, activities like men and women football among others with a longer period have started.

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Sports

Australian City Brisbane to Host 2032 Olympics

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Brisbane 2032 Olympics

By Adedapo Adesanya

Brisbane has been awarded as the host of the 2032 Olympics, becoming the third Australian city to host the Summer Games after Melbourne and Sydney.

The selection of Brisbane was announced on Wednesday by the president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Mr Thomas Bach, after delegates voted 72 to five with three abstentions at the IOC session in Tokyo.

“The International Olympic Committee has the honour to announce that the Games of the 35th Olympiad are awarded to Brisbane, Australia,” Mr Bach said.

Several cities and countries had publicly expressed an interest in staging the 2032 Games including Indonesia, Hungary’s capital Budapest, China, Qatar’s Doha and Germany’s Ruhr valley region.

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However, in a new process adopted by the IOC that does not openly pit cities against each other, Brisbane had already moved ahead of any rival back in February, having been selected as a “preferred host”.

The city’s bid had earned repeated praise from the IOC for its high percentage of existing venues, support from all levels of government and the private sector, experience in organising major events and its favourable weather, among other things.

“I’m so excited — I have so much pride for my state, for my people. Never in my lifetime did I think that this was going to happen,” said Queensland state premier, Ms Anna Palaszczuk.

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“We have done it, Queensland! We’ve done it, Brisbane! This is fantastic, this is amazing, tonight is your night, enjoy,” she added.

Australian Prime Minister, Mr Scott Morrison, told IOC voters in a live link from his office: “We know what it takes to deliver a successful Games in Australia.”

Mr Morrison then added in a statement he was “absolutely thrilled” by his country’s success in securing a third Games, calling it “a historic day” for the entire country.

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“We know the impact on Sydney more than two decades ago was transformative, and we can now expect a repeat for Brisbane and communities across Queensland.

“It’s a proud day for Queenslanders and Australians everywhere,” Morrison stated.

Australia has already hosted the Olympics twice, in Melbourne in 1956 and Sydney in 2000, widely considered one of the most successful Games in recent history.

Tokyo is hosting the postponed 2020 Olympics which starts this week and Paris will stage the 2024 Games. Los Angeles in the United States has been awarded the 2028 event.

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Sports

Ogun Praises Rite Foods’ Support for Sports

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2021 Ijebu Heritage Half Marathon

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

**As Kenyans Sweep Medals at 2021 Ijebu Heritage Half Marathon

Rite Foods Limited has been applauded by the Ogun State Government for supporting the development of sports in the state.

Last Saturday, the company, which produces Bigi drinks, Naija’s favourite carbonated soft drinks, thrown its full weight behind the 2021 Ijebu Heritage Half Marathon.

At the event, the firm provided premium refreshment and hydration for athletes and indigenes and this gesture was noticed by the state government.

The Governor of Ogun State, Mr Dapo Abiodun, who was represented by the Commissioner for Youths and Sports, Mr Kehinde Oluwadare, said the event was in line with the vision of his administration.

Speaking on the marathon, the Brand Manager, Beverage and Bakery, Rite Foods Limited, Ms Boluwatife Adedugbe, extended the company’s profound goodwill message to the people of Ijebu and also reiterated the company’s commitment to the needs of Ijebu people and its consumers in general.

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She stated that Rite Foods’ strategy will remain aligned to meeting its consumers at touchpoints that resonate with its premium brands as well as brand equity journey.

“For Rite Foods, we will always have our consumers at the depth of our hearts and we will continue to empower and support as many platforms that promote healthy competition, talents and positive energy as the Ijebu Heritage Half Marathon 2021,” she added.

Oba Sikiru Kayode Adetona, the Awujale of Ijebuland, who was ably represented by Tunde Odulaja welcomed all to the great occasion while also stating that Kabiyesi sees the marathon as a talent hunt for future Ijebu athletes who will be discovered in the process and launched into international limelight through the Ijebu marathon platform.

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Mr Odulaja commended Rite Foods for the exciting refreshment it is bringing to energize all athletes, adding that the marathon will increase economic activities in Ijebuland.

At the marathon, Rite Foods provided 14 Bigi water points, to fantastically refresh and revitalize all athletes, home-based and foreign, in addition to making its array of over 15 Naija’s favourite brands readily available to energize and meet the needs of all involved in the race.

Top class runners participated in the event which was monitored professionally, as spy cameras were deployed coupled with transporter chips to track all athletes during the marathon.

It was also a clean sweep for Kenyan athletes as they claimed both the men and women categories with Hosea Kiplimo finishing the men’s race in 1:02:36 while his counterpart, Rhonzas Kilimo finished second in 1:02:57. The third position went to another Kenyan, Timothy Ronoh, who raced to the finish line in 1:02:59.

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The women’s race was also won by another Kenyan, Sandra Chebet in a time of 1:10:42, with two Ethiopians, Gebaynesh Ayele and Beyenu Degefa taking the second and third position in a time of 1:10:52 and 1:11:02 respectively.

Local indigenes like Abigail Ogunbowale, an 11-year-old who finished the half marathon was rewarded with N250,000 by Rite Foods Limited, while Femi Olusanya, a police officer in Ijebu-Ode, who was the first to finish the race, will get N500,000.

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