Gulf investors caught up in football fund legal battle

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Brazil's Thiago Silva (L) challenges England's Peter Crouch during their friendly football match in Doha. (Getty Images)

Brazil's Thiago Silva (L) challenges England's Peter Crouch during their friendly football match in Doha. (Getty Images)

Some high profile Middle Eastern investors in Global Eleven, a soccer investment fund set up an Italian aristocrat, have become caught up in the fund’s legal action against a Swiss sports marketing company.

Global Eleven alleges Swiss-based Kentaro failed to return profits from matches played by World Cup champion Brazil, including some 2010 exhibition matches in Doha.

Set up by Italian aristocrat Indoo Sella Di Monteluce and Philippe Huber, CEO of Swiss marketing firm Kentaro, Global Eleven was a $20m fund used to market the rights to Brazil exhibition matches and to make profit on South American player transfer deals.

The $8m legal suit against Kentaro alleges Global Eleven did not receive the expected profits from the exhibition matches or the transfer deals, the Bloomberg news agency reported.

One of the biggest investors was Qatar-based conglomerate Ghanim Bin Saad Al Saad & Sons Group Holdings (GSSG), whose chairman is Ghanim Bin Saad, the CEO of state-owned Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment Co, and which is reported to have injected $10m into the venture.

The Bloomberg report added that another big Arab investor was Abu Dhabi-based Baniyas Sports Club, whose president is UAE Deputy Prime Minister Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

“The company is currently in litigation with Kentaro for breach of contract and for non-payment of amounts due and ongoing under those contracts,” Global Eleven’s administrator Nick Hoskins, a lawyer with Bermuda-based Wakefield Quin, was quoted as saying by Bloomberg.

Some of the exhibition matches include a 2010 game in Doha between Brazil and Argentina and Global Eleven’s investors include some of the most powerful companies and personalities in the Middle East.

In addition to top Middle East players and Italian aristocrats, the company hired to manage the fund’s investments was Iveagh Ltd, a London-based company that oversees the wealth of the Guinness brewing dynasty.

Baniyas Sports Club, GSSG, Global Eleven, Di Monteluce, Huber and Kentaro were either not available or unwilling to comment when contacted about the issue by Bloomberg.

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