Soccer’s backroom business is often shrouded in complete mystery. What goes into transfers; their inner workings, machinations and politicking are often beyond the bounds of even the most reputable journalists. Until recently, only the Secret Footballer provided any intimate detail on the underground world of transfers, and even those were outlines minus any names or clubs.
That is until a website named Football Leaks came about. It’s a rather plain website, complete with an outdated year and WordPress still clearly visible in the URL. If one wanted to start up a WordPress blog parodying Football Leaks with the same design, observers might not be able to spot the difference.
But, this is one book that shouldn’t be judged by its cover. The website has thrown Dutch club Vitesse (Chelsea’s farm team) into chaos over once secret transfer dealings and has leaked the transfer contracts for Gareth Bale, Radamel Falcao and now Mesut Ozil to the public eye. Even forgetting the unearthing of the details hidden inside these documents, this is a site with boundless power to change the game as we know it. Even the Secret Footballer is blushing.
Keeping a secret in the modern media world of 2016 is almost impossible, and Football Leaks’ mission is to bring transparency to a sport that bathed in shadows and secrecy from its infancy. FIFA is being radically transformed because of all of its dirty laundry being made public, and now clubs and agents are feeling the same heat.
This leaves us with a couple of questions: Why are these documents so secretive to begin with and what can this one website do to change the game?
As ever, dealing with confidential information has meant they are rapidly coming under fire. “We are not talking by phone or in person, we are making huge enemies in the game, so we need to be very careful …,” the people behind the site told The Times recently. “The Big Bosses in Turkey and Kazakhstan are really angry, and they want to silence us as fast as possible, so people can understand that we are taking huge risks.”
The website is based in Portugal, but its servers are based in Russia, making it nigh on impossible for EU authorities to go after them. And while in many cases that can provide headaches for authorities trying to snuff out illegal activity, this one detail allows Football Leaks to keep operating even if more and more bosses in the game have the site on their hit list.