Leonardo defends third-party ownership
Former Brazil international Leonardo has hit out at Michel Platini after he vowed to ban third-party ownership throughout “the whole of UEFA.”
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Third-party ownership, which involves a player's transfer rights being owned either wholly or partly by a company or the player himself, is already banned in several countries, including England -- where Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano’s 2006 moves to West Ham generated controversy -- and Platini’s native France.
It is commonplace in several countries, with Brazil perhaps most prominent, but the UEFA president underlined his longstanding plan to eradicate the practice from Europe.
"What I can't understand is when players in Brazil and Argentina don't belong to a club but they belong to people instead,” Platini told reporters after the UEFA Congress. "It means that, instead of going into sport, the [transfer] money goes to people. That is not logical. It is not human that people should belong to other people who sell them off.
"We will make the law against that for the whole of UEFA. If FIFA does not take any measures, we will take them in Europe."
However, former AC Milan and Inter coach Leonardo, who left his role as sporting director at Paris Saint-Germain in July, told The Global Player: "Platini talks without knowing [what he is talking about].
"From Nyon he doesn't know what's happening and I have never seen him in South America. If there's a hole in the system, it's logical that others take advantage of it. Clubs no longer have a lot of money."
He argued that the Bosman ruling, which allowed players to move on a free transfer upon the expiry of their contracts, created that particular problem and that a solution is needed.
He added: "The Bosman ruling freed athletes. Rich private investors exist and so some become owners of [stakes in] footballers. In Brazil for example Unimed -- which also manages players -- is the owner of Fluminense. Now that [clubs] are starting to lack money, the phenomenon is growing in Europe too.
"It was a mistake to not think about the system as a whole before, but now you can't just be moralistic about it -- that's easy -- and you can't only think about fighting it, you also need to have a solution to it. Why doesn't Platini try running a club?"
FIFPro, the world players’ union, is currently seeking to reform the transfer system and its Division Europe president Bobby Barnes this week described third-party ownership as an “unsustainable, immoral and illegal investment model.”
There is support for the model in Europe, though, and earlier this season Liga de Futbol Profesional president Javier Tebas welcomed the involvement of third-party investors in Spanish football.