ZURICH: Barcelona have had their double transfer window ban reinstated by FIFA’s appeals committee writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
At least the Catalan club had been able to use to time frame during suspension of the original decision to spend €153m – more money than other club in the world this summer – on new signings headed by €75m Luis Suarez.
The issue focuses on Barcelona’s ‘harvesting’ of young foreign talent, deemed illegally under-age by the world federation under its ‘transfer of minors’ regulations.
Barcelona have indicated they will appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, describing the decision as “affront to the spirit of our La Masia [academy], a world renowned example of academic, human and sporting education.”
The ban does not affect the club’s women’s, futsal and beach soccer teams.
For FIFA the issue concerns not the spirit but the letter of laws created to restrict football child-trafficking by unscrupulous agents and clubs.
The case erupted back in April when Barcelona, their spending style already questioned over Neymar, were handed a 14-month transfer ban by FIFA for breaking rules on signing international players under 18. Barcelona were also been fined £305,000.
The Spanish federation was also found guilty of, in effect, being complicit with Barcelona’s rule-bending. It was fined £340,000 by FIFA and told to “regularise its regulatory framework and existing system concerning the international transfer of minors in football” within a year.
FIFA rules state that international transfers are permitted ONLY for players over the age of 18 unless the player in question meets one of three qualifying criteria.
Under-18s can move to a club in a different country if their parents move there for non-footballing reasons, if they are from another nation within the European Union or European Economic Area and aged between 16 and 18, or if they live within 100km of the club.
A FIFA investigation – centred on several players aged under 18 who were registered and played for the club between 2009 and 2013 – found that Barcelona and the RFEF had been guilty of a “serious” infringement of the rules in relation to 10 players.
Today’s statement from FIFA ordered the reinstatement of all punishments meaning the ban applies to Barcelona in both January and next summer. The fine stands.
The Spanish federation, also due to pay its fine, has been granted one year “in which to regularise [its] regulatory framework and existing system concerning the international transfer of minors in football.”
The FIFA Appeal Committee has decided to reject the appeals lodged by Spanish club FC Barcelona and the Real Federación Española de Fútbol (RFEF) and to confirm in their entirety the decisions rendered by the FIFA Disciplinary Committee in the respective cases relating to the protection of minors.
As such, FC Barcelona is to serve a transfer ban which will see the club prevented from registering any players at both national and international level for two complete and consecutive transfer periods, starting with the next registration period (January 2015) given that the appeal of the club had been granted suspensive effect by the chairman of the FIFA Appeal Committee.
FC Barcelona has also been ordered to pay a fine of CHF 450,000 and been given a period of 90 days from today in which to regularise the situation of all minor players concerned.
Meanwhile, the RFEF has been ordered to pay a fine of CHF 500,000 and granted a period of one year in which to regularise their regulatory framework and existing system concerning the international transfer of minors in football.
The terms of the decisions taken by the FIFA Appeal Committee were communicated to FC Barcelona and the RFEF today.