There’s a lot wrong with modern football, but few influences have been as toxic as big-time agents, whose conduct has gotten so out of control in recent years that FIFA—itself hardly a paragon of virtue—is trying to crack down on them.
While I could go on all day about their exorbitant fees and conflicts of interest, for the purposes of this video game blog today I’m just going to focus on one aspect of their shady behaviour, namely trying to bribe the developers of the Football Manager series to give their clients better stats.
As part of a new podcast series about the long-running management series (via Eurogamer), The Athletic kick things off with series director director Miles Jacobson saying, “I’ve had agents that have tried to bribe me to put stuff up, and the ones that have asked me that know to never ask me that again. Because, I’m not one for bribing.”
Over the last few years an entire cottage industry of content and outrage has sprung up around sports games and player ratings, as players around the world film/voice their displeasure publicly at their speed/finishing/whatever ratings, which is annoying and tired but also largely harmless.
This kind of behind-closed-doors stuff Jacobson is talking about is different, and would be heinous if it weren’t so pathetic. You can see why agents would be trying it: some clubs trust FM’s scouting network so much that they make real-world decisions based on Football Manager’s player ratings, so if a player’s ratings were boosted then so too would their chances of attracting a lucrative move, which in turn would juice the agent’s fees.
The fact that players might not deserve that move, or would be found out almost instantly once training began with better teammates, or that lucrative clubs don’t use Football Manager for scouting, presumably never once entered their minds.