- FC Twente chairman resigned after documents posted online
- Doyen Sports says leaked materials don't reflect reality
Soccer’s governing body is looking into a series of deals signed by a sports investment fund, after leaked financial documents revealed details of the fund’s involvement in the player-transfer market.
FIFA has no jurisdiction over Malta-based Doyen Sports, which the leaked documents suggest has a complex ownership structure that ultimately leads to investors in Turkey and Kazakhstan. Clubs, however, are subject to FIFA sanctions if it deems they have breached regulations related to the now outlawed practice of third-party-ownership, or TPO.
FIFA said in an e-mail it is “looking into these issues” when asked about the deals Doyen has struck with clubs across Europe and South America. The leaked documents seem to show that the fund has invested more than 60 million euros ($65.7 million) in soccer since entering the market in 2011. By investing in players’ contracts, TPO funds like Doyen gave clubs financial support in exchange for a stake in a player’s future trade value, a practice that European soccer head Michel Platini has called “modern-day slavery."
Doyen has been involved in some of soccer’s biggest deals in recent times, including profiting from Manchester City’s 42-million-pound ($63.7 million) purchase of Eliaquim Mangala, the most expensive defender in British history.
“Doyen Sports always works in full compliance with the laws of the countries it operates in,” the company said in a statement issued to Bloomberg News. “If such contracts exist, it is because the clubs, who are our privileged partners, are keen to work with us and benefit from our unparalleled in the football industry.”
Doyen says the documents were obtained illegally and do not reflect the reality of its transactions. “We welcome an investigation by and into FIFA at this time,” the company added.
The leaked documents have also put pressure on the clubs that have done business with Doyen, most notably Netherlands-based FC Twente. The team’s chairman quit following revelations contained within its contracts that appeared to give Doyen influence over its trading policy, something that was already prohibited by FIFA before the outright ban started on May 1.
Doyen has taken advantage of cash-strapped clubs to "strong-arm" poorly managed teams "into one-sided agreements that are imposing unfair terms on the clubs", said a report published by the Netherlands-based Asser International Sports Law Centre.
Doyen today announced it extended its marketing agreement with Barcelona’s Neymar. The company’s marketing division has been scouring the globe to link sponsors to the superstar striker.
Doyen is not required to make public filings, so its exact size 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.”