GENEVA (AP) — Spending by English and Saudi Arabian clubs fueled a record-setting year for soccer’s international transfer market that reached highs in deals done, money spent and agent fees, FIFA said Friday.
FIFA's analysis of male players moving between member countries from June through Sept. 1 counted 10,125 transfers, $7.36 billion spent by clubs and almost $700 million paid to intermediaries representing players and clubs.
English clubs spent almost $2 billion — while recouping $956 million in sales of players abroad — and Saudi clubs spent $875.4 million on international deals through FIFA’s Sept. 1 cutoff. The Saudi trading period continued for six more days through Thursday.
The study included all cross-border transfers that are processed by FIFA and require clubs to detail the finances of each deal.
FIFA’s study is not a complete picture because it does not count transfers deals between two clubs in the same country. Those deals do not require a change of player registration between two FIFA member federations.
FIFA’s figure of $696.6 million paid to agents during the European summer trading window — and $865 million in total so far this year — also omits domestic deals.
“The full revenue of all football agents is thus likely to be even substantially higher,” said soccer’s world body, which aims to launch mandatory licensing of agents on Oct. 1. The rules are being challenged by agents in multiple countries separately from a win for FIFA at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in July.
FIFA’s research further shows how the soccer industry has recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic and seen the transfer market surpass records set in 2019.
The $7.36 billion that clubs spent in transfer fees represents an increase of 26.8% compared to the previous record summer of 2019. The 10,125 international transfers from June-September beat the record four years ago of 9,093. Of those deals, 1,985 involved a transfer fee and more than half were for out-of-contract players.
Spending by Saudi Arabian clubs on transfer fees for players such as Neymar, Sadio Mané and Riyad Mahrez was reflected in the FIFA study that showed the highest average fee was paid for older players.
The average paid for a player aged at least 30 who moved for a fee was $5.9 million, FIFA said. The average fee was $4.1 million for a player aged 24-29 and $3.32 million for those aged 18-23.
Germany collected $1.11 billion in fees for international transfers — the first time clubs from a single association received more than $1 billion in the summer window, FIFA said. German clubs spent $762.4 million in transfer fees — the fourth highest after England, Saudi Arabia and France.
FIFA will publish a more detailed analysis of the 2023 international transfer market early next year.
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