football leaks

Football Leaks: what they revealed about 'the beautiful game'

Football leaks

Throughout December, Mediapart and its 11 partners in the journalistic consortium European Investigative Collaborations (EIC) have published a catalogue of revelations about the corrupt practices in football, including tax evasion and money-laundering on a vast scale, and involving some of the best-known players, managers and agents in the game. The disclosures came from documents supplied by the whistle-blowing platform Football Leaks, and expose a startling state of affairs on and off the pitch. At the end of this long series of reports, which have now  prompted a judicial investigation in France, Michael Hajdenberg, Michel Henry, Yann Philippin summarise the principal findings of the EIC and review the surprisingly timid reactions of the regulating authorities of the world’s most popular sport.  

How financiers feed on Europe's cash-strapped football clubs

Football leaks— Investigation

Football has become a new playing field for financial institutions preying on debt, as illustrated by documents from the whistle-blowing platform Football Leaks and analysed by the European journalistic consortium European Investigative Collaborations (EIC), in which Mediapart is a founding member. In one example, a British company called XXIII Capital had bought up 73 million dollars’ worth of debts resulting from transfers of players in England, France, Italy, Spain and Portugal. These were then included in a financial product offered on Wall Street and subsequently on the stock exchange of the Caribbean tax haven of the Cayman Islands. Michael Hajdenberg, Michel Henry and Yann Philippin report.

The hidden activities of the clan behind Doyen Sports

International— Investigation

One of the biggest investment funds in European football, Doyen Sports Investments, is controlled by a secretive Kazakh family who made their fortune in a chemicals plant and who hide their vast wealth in the British Virgin Islands. Tevfik Arif, who was for several years a business partner of US president-elect Donald Trump, is the ‘public face’ of the clan of four brothers who run the family’s business activities and who enjoy close links to several oligarchs from the former Soviet Union. In a series of further revelations from documents obtained from the Football Leaks platform by the journalistic consortium European Investigative Collaborations (EIC), Yann Philippin lifts the lid on one of football’s best-kept secrets.

Lifting the lid on an unsavoury football transfer business

International— Investigation

Documents obtained from the whistle-blowing platform Football Leaks and analysed by Mediapart and its partners in the journalistic collective European Investigative Collaborations (EIC), provide an astonishing insight into events surrounding the transfer of French midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia from Sevilla to Monaco in 2013. The sometimes sordid saga surrounding Kondogbia’s transfer, in which the player had no part, involved secret commission payments and a plan to hold a sex party in Miami for the president of Real Madrid – who strenuously denies ever taking part in the event. Yann Philippin, Michaël Hajdenberg and Michel Henry report.

The secret practices of one of European football's biggest investment funds

International— Investigation

Doyen Sports Investment, one of the biggest investment funds in European football which operates out of offices in London, paid 10.8 million euros in secret commissions during the club transfers of numerous players, including French internatioanls Geoffrey Kondogbia and Eliaquim Mangala. Documents obtained by the European Investigative Collaborations (EIC) journalistic collective, in which Mediapart is a partner, lift the lid on the startling methods employed by Doyen Sports and its director Nelio Lucas.

The convicted and banned football agent who continues his dealings in secret

International— Investigation

Luciano D’Onofrio was once an agent for star football players who included Zinedine Zidane (now manager of club Real Madrid) and Didier Deschamps (now manager of the France national team). But D’Onofrio was later convicted for his part in a series of football corruption scandals, and eventually barred from exercising as an agent. However, documents obtained from the whistle-blowing platform Football Leaks, and accessed by Mediapart and its partners in the journalistic collective European Investigative Collaborations (EIC), demonstrate that he has continued his business in secret, investing in under-age footballers, buying stakes in players, and placing some of the footballers in a club in Saudi Arabia. Michaël Hajdenberg, Michel Henry, and Yann Philippin report.

How Paul Pogba’s trademark was transferred offshore

France— Investigation

Paul Pogba, the world’s most expensive football player, has provided rich pickings in commissions for his agents. Beyond the lucrative returns on his transfer fees, the 23-year-old French midfielder’s image rights represent a major source of revenue both for the player and his intermediaries. In the space of two years, and amid a bitter dispute between two of his agents, Pogba’s image rights have been managed by a company in Luxembourg, subsequently by another in Ireland, and are now held by a shell company in the Channel Island tax haven of Jersey, according to documents obtained by the journalistic collective European Investigative Collaborations, of which Mediapart is a founding member. Yann Philippin, Michaël Hajdenberg and Michel Henry report.

Di Maria, Pastore and a secretive club of Argentine agents

International— Investigation

Part of the earnings of Argentine footballers Angel Di Maria and Javier Pastore, both currently with French Ligue 1 side Paris Saint-Germain, are paid into tax havens, according to documents obtained by the journalistic collective European Investigative Collaborations via the whistleblowing platform Football Leaks. The documents also reveal the activities of an informal but organised group of Argentine agents, operating to a backdrop of secret commissions, match-fixing and the placing of players in the Argentina national side in order to boost their market value. Michaël Hajdenberg, Michel Henry and Yann Philippin report.

José Mourinho, the British Virgin Islands and tax havens

International— Investigation

The football manager dubbed the “Special One” who is currently in charge of Manchester United hid 12 million euros in Switzerland via an offshore company in the British Virgin Islands that he controlled through a New Zealand trust. Documents from Football Leaks show that José Mourinho hid some information from the tax authorities. As Michael Hajdenberg, Michel Henry and Yann Philippin report, this could lead to potential criminal proceedings against the manager if the tax authorities decide to reopen their files. Mourinho and his advisors strongly deny any wrongdoing.

When Ronaldo's goal was to escape taxes

International— Investigation

Beginning in 2008, Portuguese football star Cristiano Ronaldo channelled just under 150 million euros earned from commercial deals into the Caribbean tax haven of the British Virgin Islands and in Switzerland, according to documents from the whistle-blowing platform Football Leaks and revealed by Mediapart and its media partners in the European Investigative Collaborations consortium. After first avoiding the scrutiny of the Spanish tax authorities, the Real Madrid player wound down the offshore company involved in the scheme, escaping a potential tax payment of 31 million euros. Michael Hajdenberg, Michel Henry and Yann Philippin report.