PARIS, France, March 1 – More than $3 billion was spent in 2011 on international football transfers, FIFA said on Thursday, as it published its first full-year report on its regulatory system overseeing player moves worldwide.
The sport’s world governing body said that between January 1 and December 31, 2011, more than 11,500 moves were registered on its Transfer Matching System, with peaks during the transfer windows in January, July and August.
August 31 was the the busiest transfer day of the year, with 317 moves completed from one country to another. Throughout the year, a new transfer was completed on average every 45 minutes.
Some 70 percent of transfers involved out-of-contract players and 20 percent were loan signings or the return of on-loan players, according to the report entitled “Global Transfer Market 2011”.
Just 10 percent, however, were permanent moves between clubs, the study said.
FIFA’s Transfer Matching System, which does not include transfers within a country, became mandatory on October 1, 2010, and was used last year for the first time by all 208 FIFA member associations as well as more than 5,000 clubs.
“This report gives us a lot of useful data on football transfers, highlighting the increased transparency that the TMS has provided to the transfer market,” said TMS general manager Mark Goddard in a statement.
He added: “We aim to provide a unique set of information which should be useful on the one hand for football fans and the media but also for our member associations and club managers who require a more in-depth analysis.”
The report highlighted that the average annual salary of a professional footballer was $244,000 but the average was skewed upwards by a handful of high-earning top stars. In reality, the median salary was just $43,000.
Similarly, high transfer fees of leading players gave a distorted picture of the average cost of moves. The average in 2011 was $1.5 million but the governing body said only 14 percent of transfers involved any financial compensation.
Instead, the majority of registered deals (86 percent) went through without money changing hands, it added.
In terms of player profiles, the average age of transferred players in 2011 was 23. Half were aged 22-27 while the oldest was 46.
Last year also saw a heavy preference for South American players: 13 percent of all transfers involved Brazilians. Argentina, Uruguay and Colombia also featured in the top 10.
French players were the most transferred in Europe and Nigerians in Africa.
Half of all transfer activity was confined to 24 FIFA members, while just five associations accounted for 18 percent of activity on the transfer market, FIFA added.