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Soccer Player Sold for $56M

July 24, 2000

MADRID, Spain (AP) _ In the most expensive player deal in soccer history, Portugal’s Luis Figo was sold by Barcelona to Real Madrid for $56 million on Monday.

The deal for the winger, one of the stars of the recent European Championship, eclipsed the $55 million sale earlier this month of Argentina’s Hernan Crespo to Italian club AC Parma.

``I hope that I will be as happy as during the years I spent with Barcelona,″ Figo said before holding a Madrid jersey with his No. 10. After the presentation, he strolled through a hall filled with Real Madrid trophies at Bernabeu Stadium.

Real Madrid, delivering on a promise by new president Florentino Perez, paid the Barcelona a buyout clause of $56 million plus $9 million in Spanish value added tax.

``It’s an honor to be here presenting such a great player as Luis Figo,″ Perez said.

Figo’s sale had been rumored for days. He had been on vacation on the Italian island of Sardinia and arrived in Madrid on Monday on a private jet for final meetings with Madrid executives and a medical exam.

Announcement of the sale came hours after Joan Gaspart was elected president of Barcelona. He succeeds Josep Lluis Nunez after serving as his understudy for 22 years.

The signing of Figo was not received well in his home country of Portugal.

``Figo represented the little that was left of purity and romanticism in soccer,″ said daily Diario de Noticias, calling the winger the last great casualty of soccer’s money-grabbing.

Added sports daily A Bola: ``Luis Figo ... must have learned from other players and agents that the world he inhabits permits him to seek profit, disdaining morality and niceties.″

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