The issue of third-party ownership of players and the effect this may have on coaches is one of the topics examined in the latest edition of the official UEFA technical publication, UEFA•technician.
UEFA is opposed to ownership of footballers by third parties, for moral and ethical reasons. The UEFA Executive Committee has come down firmly against third-party ownership, and the call is for the activity to be prohibited as a matter of principle. Such a prohibition is already operating in some European countries, and UEFA wishes for it to be introduced across the board.
"This is when the coach sits up and takes notice," UEFA's chief technical officer Ioan Lupsecu writes in his editorial column. "What is the impact of third-party ownership in the dressing room? Front-line technicians reluctantly accept it as part of the job when agents or representatives grab the phone to demand better treatment for their protégés. But how are team building and team spirit potentially affected when the 'owner' of a player is a third-party company which only stands to reap a dividend from its 'investment' when the players moves to another team?"
Lupescu highlights worrying scenarios which can arise. Players and coaches may not know the identity of the third parties. A coach, for example, might be unaware if the economic rights of other players in the squad are owned by the same third party, or if and when a third party might try to influence the transfer of a player to another club.
"This lack of transparency is hardly conducive to relationship building between coaches and players," Lupescu reflects. "An even more sinister situation, in the context of the coach's working environment, could be created if the third party made direct representations to the boardroom. If a third party decides when a player may be sold, for how much and to whom, this will inevitably undermine the relationship between coach and player.
"Players may also find that, unbeknown to them, decisions about their destiny and sporting future are being influenced by an outside party that has no real interest in their training and further development but is solely driven by the profit motive."
Coaches are confronting an increasing number of everyday challenges such as third-party ownership – and another concern for the profession is the lack of respect being afforded to coaches as they come under increasing pressure for short-term success. The tenure of club coaches in Europe's major leagues has been halved in the last decade – and some never get a second chance at the job. UEFA•technician analyses the trend, given that many coaches and coach educators are telling UEFA at its events about shortfalls in terms of prestige, image, recognition and respect.
Ioan Lupescu made 74 appearances for Romania between 1988 and 2000, and appeared in world and European final rounds before moving into coaching and eventually joining UEFA as chief technical officer. In the UEFA•technician interview, Lupescu looks back at his career so far, and the challenges facing him in his role at the House of European Football in Nyon.
Two German clubs, FC Bayern München and Borussia Dortmund, were proud representatives of their country at May's UEFA Champions League final in London. In addition, debutantes VfL Wolfsburg carried off the UEFA Women's Champions League trophy in the English capital that same week. UEFA•technician relives the latter game and its key moments from a technical standpoint.
UEFA remains fully committed to coach education – in line with the vision that well-educated coaches will help produce good footballers for the overall well-being of European football. UEFA•technician surveys the comprehensive work being undertaken in this area by the European body, influenced greatly by the expert guidance of the technical experts on its Jira Panel, and remembering the legacy of the man after whom the panel is named, the late, vastly respected Václav Jíra.
Finally, UEFA•technician joins the plethora of tributes to recently retired former Manchester United FC manager Sir Alex Ferguson. Happily, the Scottish legend will still be involved with UEFA at major coaching occasions. "In other words," says UEFA•technician, "Sir Alex has not said his last word to his colleagues and admirers in the coaching profession."
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