Chapter 8“Todo Pasa”

At 8.30 a.m. on a January morning, a bespectacled FIFA official is rushing to deliver a presentation close to the site of a new museum the football governing body is building near its headquarters in Zurich. The nine-storey tower, still a construction site clad in tarpaulin and iron scaffolding, is being prepped to become a showpiece of football memorabilia. Above it would be an apartment block, topped by swanky penthouses that would be marketed for rent for the equivalent of $8,000 per month. Around the official, commuters hop on and off trams that pass the sweeping granite façade of Bahnhof Enge railway station. Wearing a grey suit and carrying a briefcase, this Australian who heads FIFA's transfer monitoring agency has come to brief journalists about the latest player trading data in the international transfer market.

Mark Goddard had arrived in Switzerland in 2001 to work for FIFA on routine clerical tasks like hotel reservations, accreditation and ticketing. When his contract expired six years later, he was ready to pack his bags and return home. But then the world ruling body offered him the job of setting up a new online system that would log tens of thousands of international player transfers each year. It would be a clearinghouse for one of the most globalized employment markets in the world: few workers moved to the four corners of the world like footballers. Over the previous five years, South American players had been transferred to 122 of the ...

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