The prospect of Malawi having more licensed player agents is bleak as it has emerged that domestic insurance companies are shunning aspiring agents.
Felix Ngamanya Sapao is the only licensed agent.
Being a new phenomenon, insurance companies are reportedly reluctant to take the risk of granting the agentsâ€™ professional liability insurance cover which is Fifaâ€™s prerequisite for granting a licence.
Owen Malijani and Tendai Kanjoma passed the last player agent examinations which FAM administered in collaboration with Fifa, but Kanjoma recently complained that he was facing hitches with insurance companies.
Kondi Msungama successfully sat for the examinations twice, but he, too, is frustrated with local insurance firms and he is currently trying his luck with a United Kingdom firm.
“Insurance companies have told me they are reluctant to deal with individuals without a back-up from the association as surety. We work in isolation in Malawi. The association has been reluctant to vouch for us. They ask me to bring the insurance policy before issuing the licence,” Msungama complained on Thursday.
Lack of accredited agents limits Malawi playersâ€™ prospects of signing for foreign teams. Save for Sapao, the rest in Malawi are scouts who deal with foreign scouts, thereby undermining the playersâ€™ bargaining power. Mozambique has five agents, Zimbabwe over 20, among others.
Malijani echoed Msungamaâ€™s sentiments: “I do not think FAM helps when it comes to these issues. Instead of supporting us to acquire the licences, they are busy inviting some more for examinations.”
FAM has, for over five years, been conducting player agent examinations twice every year, with an average of three candidates per intake. But save for Sapao, none of them has acquired the licence due to the insurance firmsâ€™ attitude.
“If the applicant passes the written examination, the association shall request him to conclude professional liability insurance in his own name with a reputable insurance company, preferably in his country,” reads Article 9 of Fifaâ€™s regulations on agents.
“Instead of the professional liability insurance policy referred to above, the applicant may provide a bank guarantee from a Swiss bank for a minimum amount of CHF 100 000 (over K10 million).”
FAM chief executive officer Suzgo Nyirenda admitted on Tuesday that shortage of accredited agents was undermining Malawi playersâ€™ prospects of landing foreign deals. He blamed the shortage to aspirantsâ€™ lack of understanding of agent regulations.
“Only four people passed the examinations ever since, but a lot (number unknown) have failed to make a grade. Indeed, some have found the professional liability insurance as a hitch to obtain a licence, but we should know that this is business and one needs to be prepared and should have a strong financial muscle,” Nyirenda said.
The Weekend Nation was unable to get the Insurance Institute of Malawiâ€™s position on the matter, but from individual companies such as Reunion Insurance Company Limited.
“Please note that our company has never been approached with the request you mention in your e-mail and I am not aware about the reluctance by some local insurance companies,” Reunion managing director Dorothy Chapeyama said on Thursday in a response to a questionnaire.
The insurance covers risks that may arise from the player agentâ€™s activity, according to Fifa. The insurance also covers damages that may be incurred after the termination of the player agentâ€™s activity.
“Player agents have not been licensed by Fifa since 2001. They are licensed directly by each association; therefore, there is no such thing as a Fifa player agent,” reads the website.