China rockets into top five global soccer spenders


China has shot into the world’s top five buyers of international football talent as global spending hits a new record, a FIFA report said Friday. Official amounts spent on players around the world hit $4.79 billion (4.47 billion euros) in 2016, up 14.3 percent on the previous year, according to the annual FIFA Transfer Matching System report. England’s Premier League clubs ($1.37 billion), Germany ($576 million), Spain ($508.7 million) and Italy ($508.5 million) were again the top spenders. But China’s spending more than doubled in a year to $451 million taking it to fifth place, up from 20th.

Its spending was more than twice the figure of France, which was the winner in transfer revenues. French clubs received $246 million in 2016 to take first place ahead of Portugal on $240 million. FIFA said Chinese spending “skyrocketed” and that the growth was “unprecedented.” China’s President Xi Xinping has called for football success to boost the country’s prestige. Last year Shanghai SIPG bought striker Hulk for more than $55 million while Jiangsu Suning bought another Brazilian striker Alex Teixeira for more than $50 million.

Spending has shot up even further this year with SIPG paying a reported $63 million this month for Brazilian attacking midfielder Oscar amid a host of new mega-bucks deals.”One of the key objectives fuelling China’s transfer drive is to raise the overall standard of football in the country so as to assist the national team in reaching the World Cup for only the second time in their history following their debut in 2002,” said the FIFA report. So far however the big-money imports have not helped the national side which is struggling in qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Chinese authorities have ordered measures to rein in Chinese Super League spending.

But Europe, especially the Premier League, still dominates the global market. UEFA countries accounted for 8,346 of the 14,591 international transfers recorded by the report. The Premier League’s spending abroad, which came to $1.37 billion, was more than eight percent higher than in 2015. Germany’s spending was more than 50 percent up. The total number of transfers between two countries was up by almost 1,000 over 2015. Brazil remains the biggest football exporter sending 808 players to 118 different countries in 2016, according to the report which does not include domestic transfers between two clubs in the same country.




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