Soccer Teams Spent $2.5 Billion on 2012 Player Trades, FIFA Says

Spending in soccer’s global player transfer market fell 10 percent in 2012 to $2.53 billion, according to the sport’s governing body FIFA.

The Zurich-based organization said its Transfer Matching System registered 11,552 cross-border trades in 2012, 1 percent more than the previous year. Sales between clubs in the same country are registered locally and aren’t included in FIFA data.

The report showed that clubs paid fees to recruit players from other teams only in 14 percent of cases, while 70 percent involved out-of-contract players. The remainder was made up of loan agreements.

FIFA didn’t say why spending was down on a year earlier, though some of the reduction may involve European teams, soccer’s biggest spenders, trimming outgoing costs in preparation to meet new break-even regulations.

English teams accounted for the biggest spending in 2012, shelling out $314 million on players such as Eden Hazard and Oscar, attackers who joined Chelsea for more than a combined 50 million pounds ($77 million). Russia was the next highest with $256 million spent. Brazil was the highest net recipient, taking in $121 million, $18 million more than teams in Portugal, the next-highest earner.

FIFA established its compulsory online player trading system in October 2010, as an attempt to bring order to an industry where billions of dollars moved annually with in many cases little oversight.

Payments to Agents

“Players, club decision makers, association representatives, intermediaries, and all other football stakeholders can now benchmark their activities in relation to the transfer market,” FIFA said.

Player trades often include payments to middlemen and agents. FIFA said the $59 million paid by English teams to intermediaries was more than that paid in any other country. Payments to middlemen worldwide were up 19 percent.

Italy paid the highest average wages to incoming players, with those moving there getting an average $720,000, FIFA said.

The report also showed Brazil, host of next year’s World Cup, was again the most represented nation. Brazilian clubs were involved in 11 percent of all transfers, the report said, with 696 players moving to the country and 612 leaving.

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