UEFA favour life bans for bung-takers

September 23, 2006

UEFA are advocating a life ban for anyone found guilty of taking an illegal payment from a transfer.

Director of communications William Gaillard believes `bungs' are not only prevalent in British football, but across Europe.

Gaillard, though, concedes UEFA are powerless when it comes to the regulation of transfers and his organisation are demanding greater transparency.

'At UEFA we suspect bungs are being paid, not only in England, but everywhere else,' stated Gaillard.

'The situation of agents is not transparent. It is obvious the power they have must translate itself into some transactions that are less than legal from a sporting point of view.

'But under the current rules as they are set up by the European Union, there is really nothing we can do to make sure transfers are clean, that ownership of clubs and players is transparent.

'This is why we are asking for a lot more financial transparency.'

When asked what punishment should be meted out for those found to be guilty, Gaillard replied: 'People who behave in an unsporting fashion should be excluded from the game.

'They have no place in the game, forever. I believe this is what most fans would like to see. They shouldn't be in the game any more.'

Fulham manager Chris Coleman is of the same mind as he said: 'The game is being tarred at the moment by the stigma of bungs, which are very difficult to prove.

'We all get paid enough anyway without having to take a bung, so if it can be proved someone has taken one then I agree they should be kicked out forever and that's that.

'If you're banned for two years then it's a rap on the knuckles. I feel if you've done it once then you'll do it again, so I totally agree with UEFA.

'If you are found to be doing illegal things then that's the end of it for me.'

However, Football League chairman Lord Brian Mawhinney believes a two-year suspension would serve as a deterrent.

'I would want to see fairly tough sentences, maybe in some cases life exclusion,' said Mawhinney.

'But I am rather attracted, at least initially, to the parallel with the drugs scene (in athletics) where if you are caught then you are banned for two years.

'That would seem to me to be a good start.'

Mel Stein, legal advisor to the Association of Football Agents, feels the matter could go a step further with a criminal prosecution.

'It is a criminal offence. It's obtaining a pecuniary advantage by deception,' insisted Stein.

'For example, if you work for a company and you are in charge of ordering the photocopying equipment, and you go to a photocopying company and say 'I'll get you a favoured order if you split with me what you are going to earn out of it', that is obtaining a pecuniary advantage by deception.

'There's really no difference.'

Sebastian Coe, earlier this month appointed as the first chairman of FIFA's new independent watchdog, the ethics commission, feels a life ban would legally be difficult to enforce.

'Legally it is a complication,' said Lord Coe, who is also chairman of the London Organising Committee for the 2012 Olympic Games.

'But the point was correctly made that taking an illegal payment is a criminal activity.'

While refusing to be drawn on what punishment FIFA could enforce, Coe at least feels world football's governing body could draw up a transfer blueprint that would serve as the defining document on all player transactions.

'It's not so unthinkable,' said Coe.

'If I think of my own federation I am a member of, International Track and Field, we now have blueprints over issues relating to drugs and some of the moral ethical issues.

'So it is perfectly reasonable to look into it in the light of where any sport is going and to what kind of balances you need in place.

'Transfers and their conduct is a large part of the game, a key issue for any governing federation.'