Connect with us


FIFA refloats idea of using algorithms to determine transfer fees

FIFA has reignited the debate on reforming the multi-billion dollar football transfer market by proposing the use of algorithms to set player transfer fees. 

At the annual law conference in Tokyo, FIFA president Gianni Infantino called for discussions on estimating the fair value of transfer fees through an algorithm.

This move is aimed at increasing transparency and fairness.

“Now more than ever it is fundamental for us to talk about these and other topics,” Infantino said (via The Spec).

“For example, to discuss about the possibility to use an algorithm to estimate the fair value of transfer fees in order to increase transparency in the transfer system and help the football stakeholders.”

This suggestion is not new but raises concerns. Clubs fear having their negotiating power limited. 

There are also legal hurdles to overcome with potential clashes against European Union competition law, as evident in the European Super League case.

FIFA’s interest in algorithm-based pricing dates back to 2017, with the establishment of a dedicated transfer task force. 

However, no concrete proposal materialised. There have since been multiple record-breaking transfers, with Chelsea shelling out over £200 million to sign Moises Caicedo and Enzo Fernandez.

Paris Saint-Germain’s record-breaking transfers of Neymar (€222m) and Kylian Mbappe (€180m) highlight the exorbitant sums involved in transfers and the need for potential regulation.

Interestingly, FIFA has supported a transfer value algorithm project at the University of Neuchatel since 2010. 

This algorithm has assigned values of over €250m to players such as Real Madrid’s Jude Bellingham and Manchester City’s Erling Braut Haaland, which is higher than estimates from industry website Transfermarkt. 

This discrepancy demonstrates the potential challenges in defining and implementing a universally accepted valuation method.

The idea of transparency through algorithms is alluring, but the challenges are too many. Club autonomy, legal compliance and the accuracy and fairness of the algorithm itself are significant hurdles. 

The debate will be heated, with stakeholders across the footballing world having their say. 

More in FIFA