Arab female football agent looking to make mark on multimillion dollar industry

Former Moroccan player Zineb Rechiche is one of the few women working as a licensed Fifa agent in the region

Zineb Rechiche played for several European and North American clubs before ending her career at the Abu Dhabi Country Club. Photo: Zineb Rechiche
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In an industry dominated by men, a former professional in the women’s game says football agency is ripe for change as she looks to make her mark on the multimillion dollar industry.

Zineb Rechiche, 34, played for a host of European and North American clubs before ending her career at the Abu Dhabi Country Club, the founding team of women’s football in the UAE.

The industry and women’s game is evolving, as a result more women are being attracted to become agents too
Zineb Rechiche, football agent

Since retiring, the Moroccan native has turned her attention towards business and recently qualified as a Fifa licensed football agent, and is one of the few women operating in the Middle East.

With a host of players now signed up, Ms Rechiche, who lives in Dubai, hopes to become a trailblazer for others looking to break into the glitzy world of professional football.

“I've been in the industry for 12 years while playing football, and because of my business background it made more sense than going into coaching,” she told The National.

She started out in France and then moved to Canada to play professionally while continuing her studies there.

“I did that for four years, played a bit in Spain and then later in the UAE and Switzerland," Ms Rechiche said.

“I wanted to link my financial expertise with what I’ve learnt and know about. Luckily, football is also my passion.

“Some of my players are in Europe, Spain and the UK in the Premier League, some are in Saudi [Arabia] and the UAE."

She is in discussions to transfer some players to clubs in the US.

“There are more female agents coming into the game – I’ve met two or three so far, but it's not an industry that attracts many women,” Ms Rechiche said.

Rogue agent clampdown

As a former central defensive midfielder, Ms Rechiche is used to the flying tackles and hard graft required in a team’s engine room, and hopes that will serve her well in business.

During her professional career, Ms Rechiche played for Paris Saint Germain, Atletico Madrid, FC Zurich and the Atlanta Silverbacks in the Women’s Premier Soccer League.

A trilingual finance degree from HEC Montreal and other qualifications picked up at the Icade business school in Madrid led her on to the General Electric financial management programme.

Along with her fluency in Arabic, Spanish, French and English, it has allowed her to connect with several players in top leagues around the world to offer professional career advice.

Football’s governing body, Fifa, unveiled new rules for agents in October, demanding that licensed agents pass a written exam.

It also aimed to set limits on how much football agents were paid.

Ms Rechiche preferred to keep her client list private, but agents typically earn between 4-10 per cent of what they negotiate for a player's salary.

The average annual salary in the English Premier League last year was more than €3.1 million (Dh12.4m), according to data analysis site Off The Pitch.

This meant the agent of a Premier League player could expect to earn between €124,000 (Dh493,000) and €310,000 (Dh1.23m) on average per client, however the wages of the top stars in the league vastly exceed these figures.

In the first round of 2023 tests, of the 3,800 candidates from 138 different Fifa associations who entered, only 52 per cent scored highly enough to gain a licence allowing them to conduct worldwide transfers between clubs.

However, legal challenges from global talent agencies railing against the plans forced Fifa into a rethink in January, claiming the measures were anticompetitive.

Ms Rechiche – who represents male and female players – said the cut-throat world of mega money deals needs regulation, but anyone acting professionally can forge a successful career.

“As a player, when you start out at a young age, it is key to make the right decision to determine your path. Agents can help with that,” she said.

“Promising young players do not always reach their potential because of bad advice about progressing their careers.

“It's a good thing Fifa is trying to tighten the industry. Before, some agents were very good, very professional but some were not.

“Now we see a lot of spotlight on women players as more games are broadcast, and different championships are accessible to watch.

“When I started, you could see maybe a European Cup or a World Cup on Eurosport, but that was it.

“The industry and women’s game is evolving. As a result, more women are being attracted to become agents too.

“It's not easy because we're not well represented, but if you act professionally with integrity and discipline, I think anyone can get into this industry.”

Updated: February 21, 2024, 2:30 AM