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World Soccer’s Player-Trade Market Tumbles 34%, FIFA Says

The global recession cut spending in soccer’s international player-transfer market by 34 percent in the first half of the year, according to the sport’s governing body.

Zurich-based FIFA said the drop in transfer and loan payments for athletes in the world’s most popular sport was due to tougher conditions in the global economy and financial control measures imposed on teams in Europe. That’s where the majority of soccer’s richest clubs are based.

The total number of cross-border player moves recorded on FIFA’s Transfer Matching System fell 9 percent to 4,973, and 73 percent of those were free agents changing teams. Costs of player sales and loans for the six months to June 30, 2012, declined to $576 million.

“The overriding factor behind that drop is surely the international recession and the impact it has had on professional clubs,” FIFA said in an article published on its website. “In addition, wealth is now overwhelmingly concentrated among a select few national associations, while UEFA’s Financial Fair Play regulations are prompting sides to act more prudently in the market.”

The aim of European ruling body UEFA’s plans is to make clubs live within their means. There will be sanctions, starting in 2014, for teams that fail to rein in losses.

Brazil had the busiest transfer market with 700 players entering or leaving South America’s most populous nation, according to FIFA’s report. England, home to soccer’s richest league, placed second with 326 player movements.

Clubs in Russia had the biggest outlay, spending $64.4 million while Brazil’s teams were the largest recipients, banking $64.9 million in trades.

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