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Spanish La Liga

Fifa fine Spanish side HK$444,000 for deal involving China’s most expensive footballer

Then sponsor, Chinese internet finance firm Qbao, cited as having undue influence in Zhang Chengdong signing but Rayo Vallecano will appeal decision

PUBLISHED : Friday, 20 April, 2018, 12:37pm
UPDATED : Friday, 20 April, 2018, 12:44pm

Spanish La Liga side Rayo Vallecano have been fined 55,000 Swiss Francs (US$ 56,567) for a 2015 loan deal involving Zhang Chengdong, who has since become China’s most expensive footballer.

The sanction, which was announced by Fifa on Thursday, was “for entering into contracts that enabled a third party to influence the club’s independence as well as for failing to record an existing third-party ownership agreement and for failing to enter correct and mandatory information in ITMS (International Transfer Matching System).”

China international Zhang moved from Chinese Super League side Beijing Guoan.

Spanish newspaper AS reports that the third party in question was the club’s then sponsor Qbao.com and that they directly influenced the signing.

The Madrid paper also suggest that Rayo will appeal the decision, quoting an official statement from the club that claims Fifa has misinterpreted the situation and that it was carried out solely by the club’s former sporting director.

At the time Paco Jemez, then Rayo boss, had told radio station Cadena Ser about his concerns:

“This is possibly the worst decision that has been taken since I’ve been here. You can’t allow a sponsor to bring in a player.”

During his time at the Madrid side Zhang made history when he became the first Chinese player to play in La Liga.

He played nine minutes in the league for the team, coming on as a sub against Atletico Madrid on December 30 2015.

Zhang also played three games in the Copa Del Rey, accumulating a total of 221 minutes football over the season.

He had previously played for two Portuguese clubs, Beira Mar and Uniao Leira, and in the German second tier with Eintracht Braunschweig.

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Since returning to China with Beijing Guoan in January 2016, from whom he was on loan to the Madrid side, Zhang moved to Hebei China Fortune FC for US$24.7 million a year later. This remains a record for a Chinese player.

This season he has played six times and scored three goals in the Chinese Super League.

Qbao ended their sponsorship with Rayo and fellow Spanish side Real Sociedad earlier this year. State media reported that the internet finance firm’s CEO Zhang Xiaolei was arrested in January.