Scudamore was already aware of wealthy individuals buying the transfer rights of players as early as 2000, a year after he took the job at the Premier League. Zahavi had told him all about it. Zahavi was suave and smooth-talking, and had parlayed a career as a soccer journalist in Israel into being a transfer broker. His first deal, while still working as a reporter, had been to take Avi Cohen to Liverpool from Maccabi Tel Aviv in 1979.
On a July evening in 2011 the football world's focus was on the Vila Belmiro Stadium in Santos, which appears little changed from the days when a teenage Pelé lived in a dormitory under one of the stands.