Soccer clubs in England, Saudi Arabia fuel record $888M spend on agents fees in transfers

Thu, Dec 14, 2023
Soccer News (AP)

Soccer clubs in England, Saudi Arabia fuel record $888M spend on agents fees in transfers

ZURICH (AP) - Soccer clubs in England and Saudi Arabia fueled spending on player agents in international transfer deals to a record $888 million this year, FIFA said on Thursday.

FIFA noted "isolated cases of service fees even surpassing $10 million," though the soccer body lost a key court ruling in London last month which threatens its global regulations that seek to limit how much agents can be paid from deals.

Agents across Europe have brought legal cases against FIFA and national soccer federations to block the rules which were intended to take effect worldwide in October.

The project is stalled in England, which FIFA's latest research showed still dominates the multi-billion dollar soccer player transfer market.

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FIFA said English clubs were "the number one spenders by a long shot" in 2023 with combined spending of more than $280 million on agent commissions in transfers between two clubs in different countries. Money from player transfers between two clubs in the same country do not count in the FIFA numbers.

The total spend on agents was up 42% on 2022 and more than one third from the previous peak of $654 million in the pre-pandemic year of 2019.

Italian clubs spending $115.7 million was the only other collective national total in nine figures.

Saudi Arabian clubs spent $86 million on agents in a state-backed recruitment program to boost its domestic league with hires such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar and Karim Benzema.

FIFA did not specify details of individual transfers, though said in 224 cases the agent service fee was at least $1 million, and those deals accounted for nearly 69% of the total spend.

In most deals, agents were paid fees of $10,000 to $100,000, FIFA said.

Clubs in North and Central America collectively spent $5.4 million across 20 transfers, and African clubs spent less than $200,000, FIFA said.

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