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Volume 6 No. 197

International Football

FIFA "dropped an investigation" into the agent of Brazil striker Hulk after his $26M transfer to Portuguese side Porto in '08 went through a Uruguayan club for which he did not play, according to Alex Duff of BLOOMBERG. FIFA said there was "insufficient evidence" that Sao Paulo-based Juan Figer breached any of its regulations. FIFA "is looking into tax-avoiding transfers through Uruguayan teams, and on March 5 fined four Argentine clubs for routing trades through Montevideo-based Atletica Sud America for non-sporting reasons." It is "common for investors to own the transfer rights of players in South America." Ariel Reck, a lawyer in Buenos Aires who works on transfer deals, said that they "avoid paying capital gains tax if they route income offshore through Uruguay" (BLOOMBERG, 3/20).

FIFA Chief Investigator Michael Garcia "made a surprise swoop" on members of the exec committee "who took part in the controversial bids" for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup, according to Martyn Ziegler of the PA. The members were unaware that U.S. attorney Garcia "would be in Zurich waiting to interview them before the executive committee meeting this week." Garcia "has completed the interviews" -- only 12 of the 22 members who took part in the vote in Dec. '10, plus FIFA President Sepp Blatter, are still in office. Garcia, the head of the investigatory chamber of the FIFA ethics committee, "met some members" including UEFA President Michel Platini on Wednesday and other members on Thursday. Meanwhile, former FIFA senior exec Jérôme Champagne, who announced earlier this year that he wants to stand for the FIFA presidency next year, said that Garcia's investigation "held the key to the reputation of the World Cup." Champagne said, "The process must go to the end. The World Cup must be unimpeachable, it must be untainted and it must be incorruptible" (PA, 3/20).

FIFPro called on FIFA to address proposals to reform the fundamental principles of football's transfer system. The concerns stem from a meeting with the FIFA Players' Status Committee on Tuesday in Zurich, where a six-man FIFPro delegation did not receive ample consideration to adequately table its proposals for the first time in a FIFA setting. FIFPro had informed FIFA in writing well before the meeting of its intention to do so. FIFPro Secretary General Theo van Seggelen said, "We are firmly committed to either replacing the current system or reforming it down to the principles by which it operates" (FIFPro). INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL's Andrew Warshaw wrote the European Club Association representing more than 200 clubs across Europe "recently produced convincing figures which it said proved that the status quo was working perfectly well." But not according to FIFPro, "which approved FIFA's willingness to create a new working group to study the whole issue of transfers but warned it would take unilateral action if it was not properly consulted." FIFPro said that "it had outlined the following areas" to the Players' Status Committee for discussion: overdue payables, training compensation and protected abuse period (INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL, 3/20).

Russian side Zenit St. Petersburg is "likely to be in hot water with UEFA once again," following the behavior of their fans in the second leg of the club's Champions League Round of 16 match against Borussia Dortmund. During the match, Zenit fans "stole a German flag, which belonged to the Borussia Dortmund supporters, which they then preceeded to set on fire." The "German press says that UEFA could open a disciplinary case" against Zenit (INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL, 3/20). ... Unless there is a "drastic change" in the Spanish Football League's (LFP) investigation into Barcelona's signing of Neymar, "the LFP will not sanction the club." The LFP's Committee for Economic Control "is already very advanced in regards to its final decision: it has no intention of fining Barcelona" (MARCA, 3/20).