|Created by||Rui Pinto|
Football Leaks is the largest leak in the history of sports revealing "murky" financial transactions in the world of European professional football and exposes the tax tricks employed by some of the continent's biggest stars. It refers to the series of investigations published in December 2016 and November 2018 by media partners of the European Investigative Collaborations (EIC), such as Der Spiegel, Mediapart, El Mundo, Expresso, Falter, L'espresso, and Le Soir.
Rui Pinto, the person linked to the leaks, was arrested in Budapest, Hungary, on 16 January 2019, at the request of the Portuguese authorities for suspicion of qualified extortion, violation of secrecy and illegally accessing information. He was extradited to his home country, Portugal, on 21 March 2019.
The website was set up in September 2015 and reveals transfer fee, wage and contract information about famous footballers. Its first leak was about third-party agreements between FC Twente and Doyen Sports, which led to the Royal Dutch Football Association banning Twente from European football for three years. Football Leaks also revealed that AS Monaco paid €43 million for Radamel Falcao, rather than around €60 million as had been estimated. In addition, the website revealed that, when Neymar signed for FC Barcelona, he received an €8.5 million signing fee, with a buyout clause of €190 million (£152 million), and that he earns €77,000 a week. A leak revealed that Gareth Bale's transfer from Tottenham Hotspur to Real Madrid was over €100 million, more than the €96 million the club paid for Cristiano Ronaldo. The website also revealed that Ronaldo earned €1.1 million for doing a photoshoot with Mobily. Another leak related to James Rodríguez's transfer from Monaco to Real Madrid for €75 million plus €15 million in additional clauses.
In January 2016, it was claimed that Football Leaks was being investigated by the Portuguese authorities over claims of blackmail and extortion. Later in February, Liga de Fútbol Profesional president Javier Tebas blamed FIFA for the leaks of contract details of three La Liga players. In April that year, the website announced that it was temporarily ceasing its leaks.
In November 2018, Football Leaks claimed that there had been undercover talks about the creation of a new continental club competition, the European Super League, from 2021. In the same month, the website claimed that both Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain were violating UEFA Financial Fair Play Regulations.
European Investigative Collaborators (EIC)
In December 2016, Der Spiegel and other partners at the European Investigative Collaborations (EIC) network (including L'Espresso, Le Soir, NRC Handelsblad, The Romanian Centre for Investigative Journalism / The Black Sea, Mediapart, Politiken, Falter, NewsWeek, El Mundo, The Sunday Times, and Expresso) began publishing information about tax avoidance by several football stars. Some of the information was collected by Football Leaks. The leaks include "about 18.6 million documents, including contracts, e-mails and spreadsheets, which served as material for investigative journalism work by 60 journalists from 12 European media." On 5 December, El Mundo revealed a judicial decree from Spanish judge Arturo Zamarriego that prohibits EIC from publishing information until "the legal investigation of its obtaining". Reporters Without Borders described the decision as "an attempt to censor on a continental scale".[better source needed]
Third-party ownership in association football
The leaks revealed Third-Party Ownership (TPO) of footballers, "whereby a player's economic rights are owned in stakes by investors". According to the Football Leaks documents obtained by Der Spiegel and shared with the EIC, certain individuals, international corporations and even large banks were implicated. One of the creators of Football Leaks conducted an interview with Der Spiegel in February 2016 using the pseudonym John.
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- Buschman, Rafael (28 February 2016). "Wanted Man: A Visit with A Football Leaks Creator". Der Spiegel. Retrieved 11 May 2016.
- Football Leaks at Wordpress (official website)
- Football Leaks at European Investigative Collaborations (EIC)