Russian club Anzhi fails to pay $2M debt to agency


GENEVA (AP) -Big-spending Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala has failed to pay a ?1.6 million ($2.08 million) transfer debt to a player agency despite being ordered to by three different courts in Switzerland.

The oligarch-owned team, which includes the world's highest-paid player in Samuel Eto'o, has earned ?1.8 million ($2.33 million) in UEFA bonuses from the Europa League this season - and can earn more when it plays at Liverpool on Thursday.

The Onsoccer agency from Portugal, which is owed the money, is seeking to have Anzhi's allocation seized under a civil court order.

Anzhi's conduct in signing Brazilian forward William Arthur Conceicao dos Santos in April 2010 was "unethical and unlawful," Onsoccer director Antonio Araujo said in a written statement to the Associated Press.

William spent less than one month as an Anzhi player before returning to Portugal when officials ordered him from the team hotel in Moscow at 3 a.m. before a match, according to a ruling when CAS first judged the dispute last year.

"We had no other choice than (recourse) to the Swiss courts in order to freeze the monies that Anzhi is entitled to receive from UEFA, via the Russian Football Association," Araujo said.

Anzhi's current Europa League money - about one month's net wages for star forward Eto'o - equals the amount the Court of Arbitration for Sport and a debt collection court in UEFA's hometown of Nyon ordered that Onsoccer should receive for the transfer, plus interest and legal fees.

Anzhi officials declined to address questions sent by email from the Associated Press.

The legal dispute began after Onsoccer bought the player's economic rights in a third-party ownership deal from Portuguese club Pacos Ferreira.

Officials acting for Onsoccer and Anzhi later met in Munich to agree a ?1.6 million transfer and three-year deal. The contract was offered in English after William was advised not to sign a Russian-language version offered by the club, the CAS ruling said.

William began training in Makhachkala in late April and traveled with the team to play Spartak Moscow, but he was sent home on May 6 - two days before the full fee was due.

Onsoccer filed a case against Anzhi with CAS while William cut ties with the agency and joined Portuguese club Vitoria Guimaraes for the 2010-11 season. He has filed a separate claim against Anzhi for breach of contract, FIFA told the AP. That case will be judged by the governing body's disputes resolution panel.

In the CAS hearing, arbitrator Jean-Philippe Rochat dismissed Anzhi's defense in an October 2011 judgment seen by the AP. The club failed to persuade the Swiss lawyer that the contract agreed by then-executive director, Said Abdulaev, was a forgery, and that William was medically unfit with "feeble muscular system of stomach and legs."

Rochat awarded Onsoccer the transfer fee and a ?175,000 ($227,000) penalty clause, plus five percent annual interest and legal fees.

Anzhi, which was bought in 2011 by Kremlin-backed billionaire Suleiman Kerimov, has declined to pay despite Onsoccer winning civil court judgments in Nyon in August and again this month.

"Onsoccer is used to doing business with many clubs - both rich and less well-off - and has never before experienced such a nightmare as with Anzhi," said Araujo, whose agency brought Real Madrid defender Pepe to Portugal from Brazil as a teenager.

UEFA can expel teams from the Champions League or Europa League if they default on transfer fees, but only if the debt is between two clubs.

"This does not constitute an overdue payable under the FFP (Financial Fair Play) regulations, as they do not cover agents," UEFA said in a statement.

Still, Araujo believes he will receive his money from Anzhi's European exploits, with the team playing in a group with Liverpool, Udinese and Young Boys.

"We are confident that at the end of the day the CAS award shall be enforced and the monies from UEFA shall be legally diverted from Anzhi to our account," he said.

Copyright 2016 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

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