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SBD Global/March 20, 2014/International Football

South American Football Club With 200 Fans Earns $14 Million From Player Transfers

A Uruguayan football club led by U.K. racehorse owner Malcolm Caine "has an unusual sideline: trading elite South American players who never appear in a game," according to Duff & Baldomir of BLOOMBERG. Deportivo Maldonado SAD, "which plays in Uruguay’s second-tier championship," was set up in '10 when Caine and London-based lawyer Graham Shear became president and VP. Regulatory filings reveal Deportivo Maldonado earned €10.1M ($14M) since '11 "by trading Brazil’s Alex Sandro to Porto and loaning Paraguay’s Marcelo Estigarribia to Juventus." In January, "it loaned another Brazilian, Willian Jose da Silva, to Real Madrid." There "is no record of the three players appearing for Deportivo Maldonado, which last season averaged 208 fans at its homes games." Ariel Reck, a lawyer in Buenos Aires who works on transfer deals, said that routing transfers through Uruguay "can ease the tax burden of investors who own player transfer rights, which is common in South America." FIFA’s regulations "allow players to be registered with three clubs in a season and play for two." Caine said Deportivo Maldonado operates “in exactly the same way as any professionally run football club” and its trades are approved by FIFA and Uruguay’s football federation. Reck said, "I don’t know if FIFA has the appetite to stop" these transactions. Reck: "If it’s difficult for the FBI to follow money around, imagine how hard it is for FIFA" (BLOOMBERG, 3/19).

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