Soccer team Sporting Lisbon said it will scrap agreements with the Doyen Sports player investment fund because the firm has been trying to arrange the sale of defender Marcos Rojo without its authorization.
Sporting, an 18-time Portuguese champion, will rescind contracts Malta-registered Doyen had in Zakaria Labyad and Rojo, who played for Argentina at the World Cup and is refusing to train amid interest from Manchester United. Doyen Sports owns 75 percent of the player’s economic rights and will get the same percentage of any transfer fee.
Funds like Doyen are becoming increasingly influential in the global soccer trading market valued at more than $2 billion annually. Doyen, which said it has represented athletes including David Beckman, Neymar and Usain Bolt, denied any interference.
Sporting said it told Rojo’s agent in confidence that it would consider selling the 24-year-old player should it receive an acceptable offer. Following a July 23 statement that Rojo would be staying in Lisbon, “there were several meetings with clubs made by Doyen to offer our player,” Sporting said in its statement.
Doyen’s chief executive officer Nelio Lucas sent text messages to Sporting’s president pressuring him to sell Rojo, according to the statement. The club alleged that Lucas said in a text that Rojo “will start problems” should he not be allowed to leave. Lucas denied the allegations, saying via e-mail he couldn’t explain further because he was in meetings.
Under soccer governing body FIFA’s regulations, third-party investors like Doyen can’t influence trades. FIFA is studying the effects of the industry amid pressure from European soccer organization UEFA to outlaw it. Sporting said it has never given in to “the pressures and interferences that were systematically practiced by Doyen.”
“Doyen does not interfere, never interfered nor intended to affect any club in making any decision,” the fund said in a statement. “The company’s contracts are transparent, clear and unlike other competitors, advocating complete independence of the clubs in decisions.”
Doyen said on its website it financed 75 percent of the 5.4 million euro ($7.2 million) trade that took Rojo to Sporting from Russia’s Spartak Moscow in 2012.
“Without the intervention of Doyen, through financing, Marcos Rojo would not be a Sporting player,” Doyen said on its website. Rojo has a 30 million-euro buyout clause, the company said. United bid 16 million pounds ($26.7 million) for him, the Daily Telegraph and other U.K. newspapers reported yesterday.
Doyen made a “tremendous deal” last week following the transfer of Eliaquim Mangala from Porto to Manchester City, Lucas said. Porto got 30.5 million euros for its 56.7 percent stake. Doyen paid 2.5 million euros for a 33 percent stake in Managala’s economic rights in 2011.
Doyen Sports is a subsidiary of Doyen Group, a London-based company that invests in markets including commodities and real estate, according to a presentation in Sao Paulo earlier this year by Lucas. It has assets in countries including Turkey and Libya. Doyen is also the owner of Rixos Hotels, which sponsors Chelsea, the Premier League club owned by billionaire Roman Abramovich. Doyen has declined to reveal the identity of its investors.