FIFA has published a report on international transfers in the men’s game during the 2011‑2020 period, the most comprehensive review of transfers across the globe ever produced.
The report confirms that transfer market activity increased steadily over the past decade. From 11,890 transfers conducted in 2011 to a peak of 18,079 in 2019, a total of 133,225 international transfers and loans of professional players took place, while USD 48.5 billion was spent on transfer fees during the period.
200 FIFA member associations involved
The transfers involved 66,789 players and 8,264 clubs across 200 FIFA member associations, thus underlining football’s role in the global economy. Brazilian nationals moving to foreign clubs topped the list with 15,128 transfers, followed by Argentinian (7,444), British (5,523), French (5,027) and Colombian footballers (4,287).
European clubs lead transfer fee spend
During the last decade, the number of clubs conducting international transfers grew by more than 30%, from 3,167 in 2011 to a peak of 4,139 in 2019. The list of top 30 clubs in terms of transfer fee spend was made up solely of European clubs: England (12 clubs), Spain and Italy (five each), Germany (three), France and Portugal (two each), and Russia (one).
Those 30 clubs alone spent a total of USD 22.8 billion on transfer fees, representing 47% of the global total over the decade.
Increased agents’ commissions
As identified by FIFA in its ongoing reform of the transfer system, the report also confirms a sharp decline in solidarity contributions, with the 2020 amount (USD 38.5 million) mirroring that of 2011 (USD 38.0 million). This trend reinforces the need for the FIFA Clearing House, which FIFA expects to help enforce training compensation and solidarity payments up to an amount of approximately USD 300 million per year.
The decline in training compensation payments is in stark contrast to the amount of commissions paid to agents, which increased from USD 131.1 million in 2011 to USD 640.5 million in 2019. A total of USD 3.5 billion was paid for agents’ commissions in international transfers over the course of the decade.