FIFA fines Arsenal over sell-on clauses for player transfers

AP – Arsenal was fined CHF40,000 (USD42,300) by FIFA and warned about its conduct regarding player transfers after the club used variable sell-on clauses that were found to give it influence over other clubs.

In a previously undisclosed investigation, FIFA legal documents reviewed by The Associated Press revealed the global governing body’s concerns about the terms of the 2018 departures of Chuba Akpom to Greek club PAOK Thessaloniki and Joel Campbell to Italian side Frosinone Calcio. Arsenal would receive a bigger cut of the deal if Akpom and Campbell were subsequently sold to British clubs.

Arsenal placed sell-on clauses in the contracts to ensure it would receive 40 per cent of the fee if Akpom was sold to a British club but only 30 per cent from any other team.

Frosinone was also given an incentive to not later sell Campbell back to a British club as 30 per cent of the fee would have to be paid to Arsenal. But the London club would receive only 25 per cent of the transfer fee if Campbell was sold to a club elsewhere.

Arsenal entered “release permanently” into the Transfer Matching System (TMS) and the discovery of details of the sell-on clauses led to FIFA’s global transfers and compliance department opening an investigation into Arsenal in January.

The FIFA disciplinary committee then found Arsenal to be in violation of the rules for entering into contracts enabling it to influence other clubs and for failing to declare data in the TMS. “The committee considers that, by the mere existence of these clauses, Frosinone and PAOK FC are influenced by Arsenal in employment and transfer-related matters,” FIFA disciplinary committee member Thomas Hollerer wrote in the verdict document.

“The committee considers that the relevant clauses undoubtedly grant Arsenal the ability to influence in employment and transfer-related matters the independence, policies and the performance of PAOK FC and Frosinone’s teams.”

Arsenal told FIFA the transfer terms did not enable it to influence any transfer decisions by PAOK or Frosinone and said the English Football Association and Premier League were satisfied there was no breach of third-party influence rules.

“It is evident that in a scenario in which PAOK FC and/or Frosinone receive two similar and/or identical offers for the transfer of the relevant players, one being from a club in the United Kingdom (UK) and the other one coming from a club outside the UK,” Hollerer wrote, “PAOK FC and Frosinone would be more inclined to accept the offer coming from the club outside the UK, as it would make the operation most profitable from a purely financial point of view.”

Details of the case have emerged only after the completion of the legal process at FIFA. Campbell, meanwhile, transferred from Frosinone on Thursday after making a loan move to Mexican club Leon permanent. Financial terms were not disclosed.