FIFA Warns Clubs Against `Playing Chicken' With New Player-Trade Rules

Soccer teams may have to change their habit of waiting until the last minute to buy and sell players when the sport’s new international transfer mechanism becomes mandatory in two days.

Governing body FIFA’s Internet-based system, which has been tested for two years, takes effect Oct. 1. Penalties for non- compliance will include cancellation of trades, fines and bans from the transfer market.

Each federation has two transfer windows when players can be traded. Often teams wait until the end of that period to push for the hardest bargain.

“It’s no longer a good idea to play a game of chicken in the transfer market,” Mark Goddard, general manager of the matching system, said in a conference call today.

This year several clubs including Tottenham announced deals several hours after the official close of the window. The north London club signed Real Madrid midfielder Rafael van der Vaart for 8 million pounds ($12.6 million) a day after a proposed move to Bayern Munich for a higher fee fell through.

Under the new system, deals will be rigidly timed out if they are not completed during the specified period. It covers only international, not domestic, moves.

According to FIFA, about $2.5 billion is spent on transfers globally, and such a movement of money around the world risks attracting criminals looking to launder money. FIFA says it will contact law-enforcement agencies such as Interpol if it detects any suspicious activity.

Third-Party Clampdown

The system also tries to stop third-party speculators profiting from player trades by ensuring money is transferred only between clubs and not other companies or individuals.

Transfers like Manchester City’s $40 million capture of Carlos Tevez in July 2009, which involved a fee to an agency headed by U.K.-based Iranian businessman Kia Joorabchian, have since been banned by FIFA.

“If you want to cheat you will always find a way,” said FIFA’s Legal Director Marco Villiger, warning that there will be attempts to circumvent the rules.

“This is no silver bullet,” Goddard added.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tariq Panja in London at tpanja@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at celser@bloomberg.net;

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