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Title: Diamonds in the Rough: Examining the Impact of FIFA's Transfer Market Policies on the Wellbeing of Minors
Authors: Clarke, Ben
Advisors: Wantchekon, Leonard
Department: Woodrow Wilson School
Class Year: 2020
Abstract: As the wealth accumulated in the soccer industry grows, and the player transfer market becomes a financial whirlwind around which the entire sport circulates, the risks to minors in soccer are more pronounced than ever. FIFA, as soccer’s highest governing body, has made efforts throughout the 21st century to tackle the exploitation of children; however, the issue is as pertinent today as ever. I hypothesize that there are some shortcomings to FIFA’s previous policy responses, and that in many cases the action taken targets the symptom of a problem, not the root causes. To best examine the relationship between the changing global transfer market and the prospects of minors, I decided to concentrate on the three most relevant FIFA regulations: first, “Article 19”, or the ban on the international transfer of minors (2001); second, the deregulation of the player agent industry (2015); and third, the implementation of ‘training compensation’ for youth academies (2001). In order to examine the effectiveness of FIFA’s past regulations, as well as to construct reasoned policy improvement proposals, I analyzed historical data, statistics from FIFA’s online Transfer Matching System, and conducted interviews with eight stakeholders in international soccer, from agents and club executives to journalists and child rights advocates. Their input was indispensable in observing the real-world implications of these FIFA regulations, particularly in the field of “soccer trafficking”, where statistical data on the subject is basically non-existent. I found that in tackling the prevalence of “soccer trafficking” of in West Africa, FIFA’s response (an outright ban on the transfer of minors) was well-intentioned but lacking in foresight, as it has done little to mitigate the issue, while inadvertently creating massive inequalities of opportunity between Africa and Europe. The deregulation of the player agent industry has greatly reduced the quality of representation available to minors and fails to comprehensively protect the wellbeing of all players, minors included. The system of training compensation for youth academies does in theory exist as an effective redistributor of wealth from the elites to grassroots soccer, yet the enforcement of the system has been lacking. By reexamining its regulations from a child-oriented standpoint rather than a club-oriented standpoint, FIFA could greatly improve outcomes for minors in soccer worldwide. Most notably, this would mean an extension of Article 19 exemptions to all players in order to correct inequalities in opportunity. Additionally, by truly committing to the development of African soccer, FIFA would far more effectively address the root causes of child trafficking. Importantly, these changes would have to be complemented by a far more comprehensive system of regulation and enforcement on an international level, creating a far more robust and responsible climate for minors in soccer.
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Princeton School of Public and International Affairs, 1929-2020

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