FIFA Gets New Information on Latin American Soccer Player Trades

FIFA received new information about player transfers in South America as soccer’s ruling body looks into the 19 million euro ($23.8 million) trade of the Brazilian striker known as “Hulk” to Porto.

Argentina’s federal tax agency wrote to the soccer authority last week to say the country’s players are being traded through seven of the smaller professional clubs in Uruguay and two in Chile to avoid paying tax, and that sometimes transfer fees pass through offshore companies.

FIFA, which is trying to improve regulation of the $3 billion transfer market, said in an e-mail yesterday it received a letter from Argentine authorities about the matter. Since February, FIFA has looked at an arrangement that allows Hulk, whose real name is Givanildo Vieira de Sousa, and other Brazilian players to move to European teams via Club Atletico Rentistas, a Montevideo-based club for which they never play a game.

FIFA said in an Aug. 17 e-mail that it was doing “pre-analysis” of that case. In another e-mail yesterday, the Zurich-based soccer authority declined to comment further on the Argentine tax agency’s findings.

The agency said in an Aug. 24 news release that the nine teams include Uruguay’s Club Atletico Fenix and Chile’s Club Deportivo Union San Felipe. The transfer fees of players who are traded through the teams are split between the athlete, his agent and investors who own his transfer rights, the agency said, without identifying any players.

Transfer Fees

FIFA rules prohibit third parties from interfering in player trades between clubs, and don’t allow agents to take a portion of transfer fees. Fenix official Gaston Alegari declined to comment. San Felipe official Claudia Tapia said in an e-mail that the club had no immediate comment.

The tax agency said in a news release that it had suspended 146 player agents for having an irregular financial situation, or not declaring commissions.

Club Atletico Rentistas got 19 million euros ($23.8 million) from trading 90 percent of the rights of Hulk to Porto in two tranches in 2008 and 2011, according to stock-market filings by the Portuguese team at the time.

Rentistas President Mario Bursztyn said in a Feb. 8 interview the transfer fee when a Brazilian player is traded through his club is redirected to a company owned by player agent Juan Figer called Lamico.

Bursztyn said the club gets a monthly retainer fee from Figer in return and the arrangement is legal. Figer follows all the rules of his profession, his spokesman Jose Aparecida Miguel said in an e-mail at the time.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal. LEARN MORE