FIFA to get tougher with soccer transfers
FIFA will use a new online monitoring system for international
soccer transfers in a bid to stamp out money laundering and
corruption in the $1 billion transfer market.
”This is a historic moment for football,” FIFA president Sepp
Blatter said Wednesday.
The new monitoring system becomes a requirement for 3,500
professional soccer clubs in nearly 150 nations on Friday. It’s an
attempt of offset decades of poor oversight that has led to rogue
agents controlling their clients, illegal payments between clubs
and companies, and money laundering through transfers of fictitious
Clubs are required to match the details of any international
player transactions and upload proof of payment, identification of
agents and documents to confirm a player’s new employer.
Officials declined to say how many investigators they are
assigning to look into transfers, but insisted that stiff sanctions
await clubs that break the rules – from warnings and fines to a
deduction of points and even transfer bans.
”In an online system, you cannot cheat,” FIFA legal chief
Marco Villiger said.
If the buyer and seller provide differing information, the
player can’t change teams. All deals must be concluded before the
transfer window closes, and FIFA has created an online clock to end
the ambiguities over last-second agreements such as the one that
sent Andrei Arshavin to Arsenal last year.
The Zurich-based body has been looking for years to find an
effective way to better monitor and regulate player transfers and
eliminate the deluge of paperwork during peak trading times as
clubs faxed details of their deals – sometimes with information
that didn’t match.
The network went online in 2007 and most major leagues have been
using it during the last couple of transfer windows. From Friday,
every club will be required to log the details of each player
either sold or purchased in an international deal or have the
With a simple login password, FIFA staff and national soccer
officials can inspect deals from anywhere and search for instances
of foul play. FIFA officials have previously described money
laundering as a ”massive problem” involving transfers of
imaginary players for cash, but identities must now be established
for transactions to be licensed.
Third-party ”owners” of players will see their power
curtailed. Individuals such as Anglo-Iranian businessman Kia
Joorabchian, who once controlled the ”economic rights” to
Argentine stars Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano, can no longer
hold up a transfer as they seek their own compensation.
And proponents say the new registry should make transfers
quicker, smoother and more transparent.
Mark Goddard, head of the FIFA anti-corruption program, said
Rafael van der Vaart’s last-minute August move from Real Madrid to
Tottenham took only 90 minutes to complete and was finished before
the window expired. Other deals have been approved in just seven
The new system also applies to all cross-border movement of
minors, regardless of whether they are switching teams or signing
their first professional contracts, and players under 18 will need
their parents’ approval.
Goddard said the new system has effectively ended the market for
minors moving around South America – in line with FIFA’s efforts to
limit the international movement of underage players.
”The clubs essentially said ‘This is too hard, there are too
many requirements,”’ he said.
For all of its benefits, details of transactions won’t be shared
with the public. Officials say the system has yet to discover a
single instance of criminality, while no teams have been penalized
and no adult players have been blocked from switching clubs.
Villiger said the system eventually will be expanded to include
national transfers as well, so that all player movements in the
world can be monitored.
”This is definitely the future,” he said.