Soccer is not just a beautiful game. It is about huge money and we know that by the huge salaries earned by soccer players, the fat pay packages the managers and coaches take home, and the money paid when players are traded.
Also, there is a lot that goes behind the scenes that the general public are not aware of.
Take for example, Jorge Mendes, one of soccer’s most powerful agents. He is registered with the Portuguese Football Federation and heads the GestiFute company, founded in 1996. In early 2016, he was photographed in Shanghai, alongside Chinese tycoon Guo Guangchang.
They had met to launch their new partnership, with Fosun as investors, and the who’s who of the soccer world attended the event.
Mendes and Guo announced that they had created an agency that would expand soccer in China. They would be helping soccer players to enter the game, give them opportunities that were difficult to come by in China, train them and help build their careers.
The meeting went a step further
What the two men did not announce at the time was that they wanted to create a network of soccer academies and clubs in Europe, buying and selling players (as is the norm). Given that there is a total ban for investors to buy stakes in players, this move would be sidestepping that. Partnership between the two men meant that trading could capture such profits. These profits would have otherwise gone to smaller clubs.
Fosun, the investors are worth over $10 billion. Assets include the Club Mediterranean Holliday Group and prime New York real estate, among others. Entering the soccer world was a bold plan. They wanted to build global football systems and create opportunity and facilities. They planned to identify players with potential. And yes, they wanted to sell these players for profit.
Mendes and Guo have declined to comment on the allegations that the money made from buying and trading players has not gone into the smaller soccer clubs as planned. It does seem clear that trading in players makes more money than any other part of soccer.
Their business model has come under fire. Is the company for the gain of the game or is it for personal profit? One does need to look at the integrity of the beautiful game.