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Keeping it in the football family

Keeping it in the football family

The PSG star Mauro Icardi’s spectacular fall-out with his wife has become big news – because she’s his agent, too. More and more footballers seem to be mixing family with business.


Transcript

Chloe Beresford: Hi, I’m Chloe and this is the Playmaker.

One story every day to make sense of the world of football. 

Today, the perils of keeping it in the family.

***

Mauro Icardi – a striker with the French team, PSG – is in big trouble with his wife, Wanda. 

According to newspaper reports, she hired a private detective to expose his supposed affair with an  Argentine model. 

And true to form, the whole episode has been played out in public, with lots of cryptic messages on social media. 

Ker Weinstein, an influencer, also posted the screenshot of her private conversation with Wanda, in which you can read, I separated. Wanda unfollowed Mauro Icardi’s account, deleted the majority of the context where she appears with the Argentine striker and then jetted off to Milan!

Soccer Stories – Oh My Goal

Their relationship seems like a storyline from a telenovela, the kind of soap opera that’s so popular in Icardi’s homeland, Argentina. 

Let me explain.

In January 2013, a fresh-faced 17-year-old – Mauro Icardi – joined Sampdoria in Italy. 

It was his first time in the country, and so team-mate Maxi Lopez took him under his wing. 

Lopez was also from Argentina, but he was nine years older and had been in Italy for two years. 

And he was so keen to help Icardi, that he invited him to live with his wife Wanda Nara and their three sons. That’s when the problems started. 

Two years later, Nara had filed for divorce from Lopez and her affair with their house guest Icardi had become public knowledge. Icardi moved to Inter, and when the two met during a game a year later, Lopez refused to shake his hand. 

The match, between Sampdoria and Inter, was nicknamed the “Wanda Derby”.

In June 2014, he got a tattoo of Wanda and Maxi’s kids’ names and then publicly thanked the tattoo artist on his Twitter account. And this was while Maxi Lopez – who was struggling being away from his kids – had asked Icardi to stop showing his kids on social media.

Soccer Stories – Oh My Goal

I can hear you thinking, I thought this was supposed to be a football podcast!

But it actually has everything to do with football. 

And that’s because not only is Wanda Nara married to Icardi, she’s his agent too. Their domestic and business relationships are intertwined.

Icardi was given a two-day leave of absence from PSG when the news about his alleged affair broke, but he was called up by Coach Mauricio Pochettino for last Tuesday’s Champions League fixture with Red Bull Leipzig. 

Icardi told his boss he wasn’t in the right frame of mind to play, or to take part in training – and he could now face a fine from the club.

All this is happening at a time when Icardi is supposedly looking for a move away from Paris. 

So is it a good idea to “keep it in the family” when it comes to football agents?

In a world in which you can become instantly rich at a very young age, more and more footballers are choosing family members to represent them. If you can’t trust family, who can you trust?

Even the biggest stars, Messi, Neymar, Mbappe, they all have family members as their agents.

It avoids having to place a huge amount of trust in an outsider, someone who may not always have the player’s best interests at heart. 

And let’s not forget: a lot of money is at stake. In the 12-month period up to February of this year, Premier League clubs spent 272 million pounds on agents.

But is having the same blood a guarantee that family agents are up to the job? 

Take Harry Kare and his brother, Charlie. Charlie, who became Harry’s agent in 2018, has been heavily criticised for not insisting on a buyout clause in his brother’s contract with Tottenham.

Clearly on the Tottenham side, you’ve got big boys that are grown up and understand the dynamics of what a 125, 150 million pound deal looks like. On the other side, you’ve got Mr. Magoo, who doesn’t understand the dynamics of how to do a deal, and is sitting there saying because I’m Harry Kane and because I’m Harry Kane’s brother this deal should happen in this particular way, and it’s nonsense!

Talksport

It wasn’t always like this.  Once, football agents had to pass an exam to become an official intermediary between player and club, but this rule was done away with by FIFA in 2015. 

Now, you can simply fill in a form, pay a £500 fee, pass the background checks and away you go. 

But some players actively avoid being represented by a family member. 

Jonjo Shelvey of Newcastle has a brother named George who is an officially registered agent with the Football Association. 

Yet Jonjo is on the books at ICM Stellar Sports, one of the biggest sports agencies in the world, and that’s because his brother told the New York Times that business matters are “for someone else to sort out.”

It’s a complex decision that comes down to personal choice.

And right now, Mauro Icardi might be wishing that he’d avoided keeping it in the family altogether.

Today’s episode was written by Chloe Beresford, and produced by Xavier Greenwood.