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FIFA Blocks 70 Overseas Trades as $320 Million Spent in Window

Chelsea's David Luiz
Chelsea was left fretting over its 25 million-euro ($33.8 million) signing of David Luiz from Portugal’s Benfica. Photographer: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Feb. 8 (Bloomberg) -- FIFA blocked about 70 trades during last month’s transfer window as an online registration system became mandatory for clubs buying players from other countries, an official at soccer’s governing body said.

Many teams wait until the last minute to get better deals and those that miss the deadline are timed out of registering trades.

“They’re haggling until the last moment,” Mark Goddard, general manager of FIFA’s Transfer Matching System, said in an interview yesterday. “They can all watch the countdown clock now and decide at what point they want to pull themselves out of a nosedive like some Japanese kamikaze plane and get it through. If they don’t it’s self-inflicted.”

Teams spent $320 million on recruiting 2,451 foreign-based players in January, he said. A year earlier, 1,200 transfers were registered through the online system and $243 million spent. Goddard said “half of the football planet was open for business,” with 115 member associations trading.

FIFA doesn’t have jurisdiction over transfers between teams within individual associations, so the last-day deals that saw Fernando Torres move to Chelsea from Liverpool for 50 million pounds ($80.6 million) -- a record between U.K. clubs -- and the Reds’ capture of Newcastle’s Andy Carroll didn’t need the authorization. Chelsea was left fretting over its 25 million-euro ($33.8 million) signing of David Luiz from Portugal’s Benfica.

Luiz Transfer

The Brazilian defender was pulled from a plane en route to London in order to get the paperwork completed on time, Sky Sports reported. Goddard said that deal was done two minutes before the deadline at 11 p.m. U.K. time.

“That was probably the largest one I was most concerned about,” he said. “I went home and thought ‘There’s no way that’s going to get through’ and I woke up the next morning and our Portuguese staff member said, ‘Gee, they pulled it off.’”

Transfers that were blocked are passed to FIFA’s player status department. If clubs can argue mitigating factors stopped them from getting international clearance in time the trades can be registered.

“They’re gonna have to sit tight until that’s handled,” Goddard said.

Goddard said he was surprised by the scale of business that took place in January, one of two periods when the majority of leagues in Europe can trade players. He said it may be because European soccer’s governing body, UEFA, plans to enact regulations that seek to limit clubs’ spending in the coming years.

“This would seem like the idea is to try and make hay while the sun shines,” he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tariq Panja in London at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Elser at

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