Dutch Soccer Team Moves to Drop Fund Following Leak Scandal

  • FC Twente deal with Doyen investigated by Dutch authorities
  • Hundreds of confidential documents leaked amid hack claims

Dutch soccer team FC Twente is moving to terminate contracts with a soccer fund after contracts it signed with the company were leaked onto the Internet, the club said. The leak has already led to the resignation of Twente’s chairman.

On Wednesday the firm, Doyen Sports Investment, said it had been targeted for the leaks after not giving into demands by people behind a website called Football_Leaks. Doyen did not specify what the demands were. The website later issued a statement saying it had not made any demands and asked Doyen to prove its claims that its servers had been targeted in a cyber attack. A Doyen spokesman declined to comment Thursday.

Doyen had said that some of the documents were accurate while others had been exaggerated, without specifying which.

FC Twente, currently ranked 15th out of 18 teams in the Dutch first division, borrowed money from Doyen amid a financial crisis at the soccer team, according to the leaked documents. The team agreed to take a 5 million-euro loan and in return agreed that the company could take a cut of its player transfer income.

Details leaked onto the website show Doyen would have a say over the team’s player trading policy, something that is banned by soccer’s governing body FIFA and the Dutch federation known as the KNVB. The contracts appear to have been signed after the FIFA rules went into effect in 2008.

Earlier this week Twente’s millionaire chairman Aldo van der Laan, who took on the role this year, quit, saying the details in the leaks were damaging to the club. He and his predecessor held office when deals with Doyen were made. Joop Munsterman, van der Laan’s predecessor, didn’t respond to a telephone message seeking comment.

Doyen said in a statement on Wednesday that all its contracts were legal and followed soccer’s established regulations.

Rare Glimpse

The documents published on the website offer a rare glimpse into a largely secretive practice in which investors loan money to often cash-strapped soccer teams in return for a percentage of the fees they get when a player is traded to another team. FIFA, the governing body for world soccer, banned investors last year from the $4 billion global player trading market amid complaints funds were exerting too much influence.

FIFA said agreements entered into before the ban can be unwound over the term length of the agreements.

The leaked documents also purport to show Doyen’s complex ownership structure, revealing shell companies in several overseas jurisdictions and its beneficial owner being a mining magnate from Kazakhstan.

Doyen said in the statement it had made a complaint to the authorities over the Football_Leaks website.

"We hereby repudiate the deplorable statements made on Wednesday by a representative of the Doyen Sports,” said the founders of the website in a statement. "Our only intention is transparency and an end to this gray cloud hovering in world football."

The group challenged Doyen to prove it had been the victim of a cyber attack, saying the accusations "only serve as a smokescreen to hide what really happened.”

While the exact size of Doyen is unknown, Chief Executive Officer Nelio Lucas said in 2014 that the company turns over considerable amounts of cash, though it remains small compared with the parent company.

“The group is backed from private families,” he said. “It’s very clear we have so many investments in so many things. So many billions in turnover. So 100 million, it’s a little drop in the ocean. Now 200 million, that’s two drops in the ocean.”

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