By: Joe Barca, @BarkyCat
Front Office Sports is proud to have sat down with Eddie Rock, Partner & FIFA Licensed Players’ Agent at Libero Sports. Eddie’s internship with Major League Soccer propelled his career to what it is today. He was gracious enough to offer up his time and insight on what it si like to be an agent in the worlds most popular sport, why his experiences helped him become who he is today and why practical experience above all else is the most important.
Was player representation always your main goal?
No, not at all. After undergrad, I started as an assistant coach at the collegiate D-III level. I was first at my alma mater, Beloit College, and then spent two years at the University of Chicago. At that point, my choice was to either begin a career as a full-time coach or pursue something different. I had always been very interested in the business side of sports, soccer specifically. So I went to law school with an open mind. I ended up landing an internship with Major League Soccer’s league office in New York City after my first year of law school. I essentially snowballed from that experience into what I’m doing now. Even so, I never really had a dream of being an agent, I just kind of went that direction.
What does Libero Sports offer?
I’ll break it into what we do for our clients. Our clients can be individual players, professional clubs, and companies/organizations.
For the players, we help by identifying clubs, negotiating their contracts, negotiating endorsement contracts. In addition, we offer what I would consider career advice and personal advice. It’s providing guidance. We don’t manage our client’s money, but we do provide the foundations of good money management and decision making.
For professional clubs, we offer a variety of services. One could be helping them identify and secure players. Sometimes we won’t represent a player on the transaction but we will represent the club. The club may say to us, ‘we have a budget of X — we need you to go out and find a player who has qualities that fit on the technical side but also makes sense financially.’ We also work with clubs in putting strategic plans together. It has to do with academy setup, international marketing, and strategic development.
For companies and organizations, we can advise endorsement planning and marketing and strategy. We help with international tie ups. We brokered and put together a deal that has brought Liverpool’s residential football academy to India and Pele’s latest trip to India this past autumn.
We have three different sectors of clients, each has a very different level of service.
What does it take to become FIFA licensed?
Well, it’s actually a designation that no longer technically exists. For a long time, it was FIFA regulated, worldwide agents. You had to go through a background check and take an exam. And in at least the U.S. it had a pass rate of under fifty percent. So it actually was a complex licensing program. Within the last six months, they’ve deregulated that. I keep the designation up because in the industry it’s still a good indicator of the seriousness of professionalism as an agent. Right now, agents are called intermediaries. I still think most people refer to them as agents.
What are your main responsibilities at Libero Sports?
My main responsibilities are management of our U.S. player market and overall business operations. I have two other partners I work with closely on the business operations side. One other partner oversees the agent market. If it is work in Africa or Europe it’s kind of split. We all kind of work on things together.
What are some challenges you face as an agent?
Trying to keep abreast of the changing market. We have players that play all over the world. Certain marketing will become hot or up-and-coming. Salaries will go up. Make sure you’re on the forefront of that. On the U.S. side, I think it’s delivering a level of service that’s excellent. I’ve been doing this almost eight years now. The amount of new entries into the new market is at least threefold. Making sure you take care of your clients is definitely one of the biggest challenges.
Advice for aspiring students/young professionals?
I think it’s practical experience. I would not be here if it wasn’t for landing an internship at MLS. Like I said earlier, everything snowballed from there. Typically, representation/agent work usually is going to be relationship based. So really cultivate a network as quickly as possible. Full-time agents tend to have a law background or be former professional players, coaches, or journalists. Those people basically come in with a built-in network.
We would like to thank Eddie for his time and insights and we wish him the best in all his future endeavors!