Football agents took a bigger cut from international player transfers in 2012, even as trading in the billion-dollar market fell by $290 million, according to FIFA research published on Tuesday.
Player representatives took $163 million in fees from clubs, at 28 percent average commission, as their total take from cross-border transfers rose $33 million last year.
"2012 witnessed a greater involvement of intermediaries,'' stated FIFA subsidiary Transfer Matching System (TMS) in an annual survey.
Clubs in 200 countries must use the online platform to detail all their payments when players move between different countries either for a fee, on loan or when out of contract.
English clubs spent the most, with FIFA processing $59 million in fees to agents in international deals.
Italian clubs paid $41 million and Russian clubs $23 million, and agents also banked payments from players which FIFA's system doesn't record.
"Obviously, money going to an intermediary is leaving football,'' TMS general manager Mark Goddard said in a conference call.
FIFA's insight into agents' earnings from clubs follows after football's governing body revealed it was trying to help teams cut out middle men and deal directly with each other.
An online system called Global Player Exchange is being developed to help clubs share information about players available to sign.
Asked if the latest survey showed how agents drove up clubs' transfer expenses, Goddard replied: "I am happy we can give the data so that clubs can start asking questions themselves.''
In 2012, player representatives - including agents, lawyers and family members - were paid commissions from 706 international transfers, a 19 percent increase.
Agents' income soared despite FIFA logging a 10 percent drop in total value of international transfers, worth $2.53 billion.
FIFA officials declined to speculate if the global financial downturn was responsible for a drop in spending when the total number of completed international transfers, 11,552, rose by 1 percent last year. Seven out of every 10 transfers involved free-agent players.
In 19 percent of all international transfers, a total of 2,199 deals, an intermediary was involved on behalf of a club or player.
FIFA does not yet monitor transfers between two clubs from the same association, such as Manchester United's reported 24 million pounds ($37 million) purchase of Robin van Persie from Arsenal last offseason.
Goddard said TMS, which became mandatory since 2010 to improve transparency in club finances, could expand in future to process domestic transfers.