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Agents made $650 million from player transfers in 2019

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Looking for a new “get rich quick” scheme? Try becoming an agent for any number of professional footballers, but you better hurry.

[ MORE: Spurs’ Mourinho quotes Mandela in discussing Man United return ]

While it turns out there’s quite a lot of money to be made for representing footballers and facilitating transfers and negotiating contracts, including your own piece of the pie, the well is set to dry up in just over 12 months’ time.

First things first, how much money are we talking about here? More than $650 million in 2019 alone — up nearly 20 percent from 2018 — according to numbers released by FIFA on Wednesday, and that number doesn’t include players who moved between two clubs in the same country, only players who made international transfers. That would be the good news.

[ MORE: Liverpool ready to spend in January ]

Here’s the bad news, for the agents at least: FIFA has approved new guidelines which will cap agent fees at 10 percent of transfer fees and 3 percent of player salaries beginning in 2021. OK, so there’s still decent amount of money to be made in your new career.

The agents and FIFA are at odds over the new rules, which prompted the governing body to release the figures, as if to say, “See? These are the really bad guys ruining your sport.”

Swiss prosecutors quiz PSG president in FIFA bribery case

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GENEVA — Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser al-Khelaifi was questioned again by Swiss federal prosecutors on Monday, and will seek to have a two-year investigation into allegations he bribed a FIFA official dismissed.

The office of Switzerland’s attorney general said Al-Khelaifi, former FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke, and a businessman who has not been identified presented themselves for questioning in the Swiss capital.

Final examination hearings were held ahead of decisions on “whether the proceedings are abandoned or a summary penalty order is issued or an indictment is filed,” the prosecution office said.

Criminal proceedings were opened against the three men in March 2017 and unsealed later that year before they were questioned for a first time in Bern.

In his role as chairman of Qatari broadcaster beIN Sports, Al-Khelaifi is alleged to have arranged for Valcke to use a luxury villa in Italy linked to sealing broadcast rights deal for the 2026 and 2030 World Cups.

“Valcke is believed to have accepted undue advantages from his two co-suspects,” prosecutors said on Monday. “In particular, the co-suspect Al-Khelaifi allegedly gave Valcke the sole rent-free use of a property.”

BeIN Sports renewed its Middle East and North African rights for those tournaments. It bought the 2018 and 2022 rights soon after FIFA picked Qatar as the 2022 tournament host exactly nine years ago on Monday.

“The principal allegation against Mr. Al-Khelaifi … has no single basis in law or fact,” beIN said in a statement on Monday.

“For this reason a motion to dismiss proceedings will be filed by Mr. Al-Khelaifi’s lawyers this week.”

BeIN said the price it paid for the 2026-2030 games – reportedly close to 500 million euros ($550 million), a record for the Middle East rights – showed that no favorable deal was struck.

Al-Khelaifi and Valcke have repeatedly denied wrongdoing, and Swiss prosecutors said they enjoy the presumption of innocence.

Since the criminal proceedings were opened, the PSG president was elected oto represent European soccer clubs on the executive committee of UEFA. It meets on Wednesday in Nyon, Switzerland.

On Monday, Swiss prosecutors declined to predict a timeline for their work, which it called “dynamic processes, which are not influenced by the (Swiss attorney general’s office) alone.”

In a separate investigation, French prosecutors have implicated Al-Khelaifi in “active corruption” linked to payments allegedly helping Doha win hosting rights for the athletics world championships. He has denied wrongdoing.

USWNT’s Rapinoe wins 2019 Women’s Ballon d’Or

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Megan Rapinoe topped off an iconic calendar year with France Football’s biggest prize, the Women’s Ballon d’Or award.

Rapinoe scored six goals to go with three assists as she led the U.S. Women’s National Team to another FIFA Women’s World Cup title. She scored the decisive goals against France in the quarterfinals and the Netherlands in the final, but it was her place as the heart and soul of the USWNT that led her and the national team to win. The 34-year-old absorbed all the pressure on her and her team and still produced on both sides of the ball.

Rapinoe had nine goals and seven assists across the calendar year for the USWNT. In addition to winning the World Cup, she won the Golden Ball and the FIFA award for the best women’s soccer player of the year. She’s also in the running and is now surely the front runner for the 2019 U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year.

England right back Lucy Bronze and Rapinoe’s USWNT teammate Alex Morgan finished in second and third place, respectively.

FIFA bans Brazilian soccer official Teixeira for life

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GENEVA — FIFA banned Brazilian soccer official Ricardo Teixeira for life on Friday for taking millions of dollars in bribes, four years after he was indicted by American federal prosecutors.

In an overdue judgment by the FIFA ethics committee, Teixeira was found guilty of taking bribes linked to commercial contracts for South American competitions from 2006-12.

[READ: Fabinho out injured until January]

Teixeira was also fined 1 million Swiss francs ($1 million), but it is unclear how FIFA can enforce payment.

The ban cuts formal ties to soccer for the 72-year-old Teixeira, who resigned from the FIFA executive committee in 2012 ahead of being formally implicated in a decade-old World Cup kickback scandal.

Teixeira became identified with an era of corruption linked to FIFA during the long presidencies of Joao Havelange, his former father-in-law, and Sepp Blatter.

In December 2015, Teixeira was named in a sweeping indictment unsealed by the U.S. Department of Justice that detailed racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracy charges. He has evaded extradition to the United States, where he kept a home in Florida.

Teixeira cited health reasons seven years ago when he left the executive committee. He also stepped down from organizing the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Also in 2012, longstanding allegations were confirmed that Teixeira and Havelange took seven-figure kickbacks from the ISL agency which marketed World Cup broadcasting contracts.

A Swiss supreme court ruling ended years of secrecy about the case. It led FIFA to publish a document detailing a 2010 agreement for Teixeira and Havelange to repay $2.5 million and $500,000, respectively, to close a criminal prosecution.

At a FIFA ethics committee hearing in July, investigators presented evidence from the U.S. federal case that Teixeira took bribes linked to commercial deals for the Copa America, Copa Libertadores and Brazil’s national cup competition.

The FIFA ruling states Teixeira banked his bribes “in Middle East, in far Asia, in Andorra, in Europe, and always with beneficial owners that were very common names in Chinese or in each region, which was impossible to know who it was.”

His lawyers countered that “Teixeira vehemently denies all charges, which are no more than assumptions made by U.S. attorneys, without any evidence to support the indictment.”

FIFA dismissed the defense, noting “bribe payments and promises of such payments of several million dollars, money which could otherwise have been invested into the development of football in Brazil and South America.”

Arsene Wenger takes new job at FIFA

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Arsene Wenger has been named as FIFA’s new Chief of Global Football Development.

Wenger, 70, has been linked with a move to Bayern Munich in recent weeks but it appears the Frenchman will now end his role as a club or national team manager and instead focus on the bigger picture in this special role at FIFA.

Marco van Basten left FIFA’s technical director role in October 2018 and Wenger is the perfect person to replace him and lead the global game.

FIFA say that Wenger will “be chiefly responsible for overseeing and driving the growth and development of the sport for both men and women around the world. He will also be the leading authority on technical matters, both as a member of the Football and Technical Advisory Panels involved in The IFAB’s review and decision-making process on potential changes to the Laws of the Game, and as chairman of the FIFA Technical Study Group.”

They added that Wenger “will include a particular focus on coach education” and he will be key in FIFA’s executive programme, which helps former professionals enter management and help them in their post-career transition.

Speaking about his new gig from Switzerland as he stood alongside FIFA president Gianni Infantino, the legendary former Arsenal boss was delighted to arrive in a role which seems perfectly suited to his skillset.

“I very much look forward to taking on this extremely important challenge, not only because I have always been interested in analysing football from a broader perspective but also because FIFA’s mission as world football’s governing body is truly global,” Wenger said. “I believe that the new FIFA we have seen emerging in recent years has the sport itself at the very heart of its objectives and is determined to develop the game in its many different components. I know I can contribute to this objective and will put all my energy into this.”

Infantino added: “Arsene is someone who, with his strategic vision, competence and hard work, has dedicated his life to football. His arrival is just another example of how we keep strengthening our purpose to bring FIFA back to football and football back to FIFA.”

Wenger’s time as a coach was revolutionary, as he totally changed the structure at Arsenal and almost single-handedly altered the professionalism levels in the Premier League.

After a 22-year stint in charge of the Gunners, it appears Wenger’s time as a coach is up.

He will now travel the world trying to spread the gospel of the beautiful game. Considering his Arsenal team always played wonderful, free-flowing, attacking soccer, Wenger truly embodies the most beautiful parts of the beautiful game.