‘FIFA is not going to give this as a gift’
Oscar van der Horst
editor of NOS Sports
Oscar van der Horst
editor of NOS Sports
David Endt initially called it an attack, but actually meant more of a robbery. Thousands of soccer agents were subjected to a tough exam on Wednesday at the behest of the world soccer federation FIFA, with the license to continue doing their jobs at stake.
“If he doesn’t make it, no one will,” Endt was highly regarded by his colleagues after a lifetime in soccer. “Oh well, I have become a little wiser from this anyway,” the former Ajax team manager viewed a hectic morning at the Jaarbeurs from the positive side.
Hiding behind laptop
Tucked high away, on the seventh floor of the immense complex in Utrecht, the KNVB had set up an examination room. And the same was happening simultaneously in a host of other countries.
Of the 174 entries, 142 had shown up. From participants who wanted to get their licenses to arrived case managers who were suddenly startled by the tightened rules. With the fear that they would lose their powers after Oct. 1.
“It took some getting used to again, back in school,” said Guido Albers, who represents the interests of Steven Berghuis and Kenneth Taylor, among others. And heavyweights such as Winnie Haatrecht (Ryan Babel), Fulco van Kooperen (Steven Bergwijn) and Ali Dursun (Frenkie de Jong) were also holed up behind a laptop.
Exam stresses case workers: ‘Determines whether I can continue to practice my profession’
The school setting moved them not to make a joke, as they used to do in high school. And no soccer humor for a while, either. But mostly deep seriousness.
After all, time was their greatest enemy. An hour they had, for twenty questions. Multiple choice, sometimes multiple answers possible. They were allowed to keep the study material on the table without notes, six hundred pages thick and also in English. It almost became a spin on the roulette wheel for many.
“Personally, I do favor annual education, but for everyone. And that was not the case now,” Albers was referring to colleagues who had already obtained their permanent license before 2015 and did not have to go through this stress. “Furthermore, it was striking that everyone was asked different questions.”
Former soccer players
Many of them used to be soccer players themselves. From Serginho Greene to Oswald Snip. And from Dries Boussatta to Henrico Drost.
Drost himself played successively for Go Ahead Eagles, sc Heerenveen, Excelsior, De Graafschap, VVV-Venlo, RKC Waalwijk, NAC Breda and again Excelsior and RKC Waalwijk. “I haven’t always been well coached myself. And so that’s why I wanted to do this, to show how things can be done better.”
Drost has already helped a few players find a new club, in the rough jungle that the soccer industry sometimes is. But now, for a moment, everyone had the same interest, he noted with a wink. “Passing that test.”
Separating chaff from wheat
It all had its good sides too, to separate the wheat from the chaff. And that had been done in a step before this. The association of intermediaries, Pro Agent, had recently organized a trial exam, in which about five hundred potential player brokers participated. Not all of them dared to come to Utrecht.
The success rate is expected to be low. Business manager Sandro Calabro decided not to participate, even though he could have taken a gamble for the 75 euro registration fee. Perhaps the test will be annulled, if the lawsuit filed against this course of action is won. That will be known May 10.
In two weeks at the latest, the exam results will be out. Generously late, is the general impression, to grade 20 computer-entered multiple-choice answers.
Umit Punar is the only one who already knows the result. He was a few minutes late after a long car ride from Venlo and was excluded from participating. In order not to risk the crowds on the road, dozens of participants had stayed overnight in hotels. And they didn’t do that for fun either.
More case managers than premier league soccer players
Right now there are more case managers than premier league soccer players, a crazy situation, of course. But with the professionalization of women’s soccer, extra hands are needed. Among the examinees were already a handful of women, including the widely known Leoni Blokhuis.
And also interior designer Karin Setford, also the mother of two soccer-playing sons at Ajax. Charlie and Tommy, two youthful goalkeepers she hopes the license will allow her to mentor during their careers. “They were difficult questions for me, you had to read carefully before you really understood them. But it went well.”
Perhaps it was also easier to go into the test blank, Albers mused. The theory was sometimes at odds with what experience had taught him. “It was very tough, but I didn’t expect anything else. FIFA is not going to give this as a gift.”
Board secretary Mark Boetekees was responsible for the organization on behalf of the Dutch Football Association. At the same time, this put all the criticism about this event on his plate. After Punar was sent away, a feeling of guilt crept up on him, but the latecomer resigned himself to his fate after an explanation from the Boetekees who had rushed over.
A retake will follow for Punar and all those others who fail, in September. At an extremely unfortunate time, right after a presumably busy transfer summer. Because any trading period could suddenly just be the last for these agents.