On Tuesday, FIFA announced that it had punished four clubs for breaches of third-party ownership (TPO) rules.
TPO, which became illegal under FIFA rules in May 2015, is the practice of a club selling a share in a player to a third party -- usually a fund or a wealthy individual -- which then cashes in when said player is sold on.
Using fictitious names, here's how a typical example might play out: Deportivo Ladrones agree to buy striker Carlos Craque from Fakechester Rovers for $2 million but, instead of putting up the money themselves, they only pay half the money and borrow the other million from a third-party investor called Mr. TPO.
Mr. TPO and Deportivo Ladrones agree that, if Craque is sold in the future, they will split the proceeds. And that's exactly what happens, two seasons later, when Craque joins Bayer Schnitzel for $4m. Deportivo Ladrones and Mr. TPO each get $2m.
FIFA banned the practice, under pressure from UEFA, for a number of reasons....