In the surprise move of the day, or not depending on how closely you follow FC Barcelona, football governing body FIFA has banned the Spanish giants from conducting business in two transfer windows. The ban was handed down because Barcelona was not following the guidelines concerning the transfer of players under 18. FIFA allows the international transfer of players under 18 under three circumstances, the player’s parents have moved country for their own reasons, the player’s home is less than 50 kilometers from the national border being crossed, and if the transfer takes place within the European Union if a player is aged between 16 and 18.
The official FIFA statement read:
“The FIFA Disciplinary Committee has sanctioned the Real Federacion Espanola de Futbol (RFEF) and Spanish club FC Barcelona for breaches relating to the international transfer and registration of players under the age of 18.The investigations concerned several minor players who were registered and participated in competitions with the club over various periods between 2009 and 2013.”
It is unclear which players the ban is in response to but this is not the first time that Barcelona has been in hot water with FIFA over their transfer dealings. In February 2013, FIFA investigated the transfer dealings of six youth players in the Barcelona setup and banned them from playing in competitive matches though they were allowed to train with their teams. What prompted FIFA to move from a simple ban on the players to a ban for the entire club but the statement did state which regulations the club violated.
The FIFA statement continued:
“FC Barcelona has been found to be in breach of art. 19 of the Regulations in the case of 10 minor players and to have committed several other concurrent infringements in the context of other players, including under Annexe 2 of the Regulations. The Disciplinary Committee regarded the infringements as serious and decided to sanction the club with a transfer ban at both national and international level for two complete and consecutive transfer periods, together with a fine of CHF 450,000 [$508,000 or 368,000 euros]. Additionally, the club was granted a period of 90 days in which to regularise the situation of all minor players concerned.”
Barcelona will look to Chelsea FC’s precedent of fighting a transfer ban which the Blues did successfully after they were cleared of wrongdoing concerning the transfer of Gael Kakuta from Lens. This situation may be different considering Barcelona had been warned before and that there is clearly more than one player transfer involved in the rule breaking. They will appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport but fans of rival clubs will hope that the ban is enforced this summer.
With several key players on the way out of the club including Carles Puyol and Victor Valdes, Barcelona was looking to the transfer window to bring in some worthy replacements. If the ban goes in to effect right away then the club will have to promote players from within which has worked out just fine in the past (see Messi, Xavi, Puyol, etc.) but the learning curve for these youngsters may be steep. Whatever happens, this will be a fascinating situation to follow and could set a tremendous precedent in world football.
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