LONDON: Sunderland’s new signing Emmanuel Eboue has been banned before even having made his debut for the Premier League strugglers.

Eboue, former Arsenal and Ivory Coast defender, joined the Black Cats earlier this month as a free agent after leaving Galatasaray last year. But he has been suspended for a year by FIFA in a row over an agent’s fee.

The decision is a further blow to Sunderland with the club’s image tarnished by its mishandling of the Adam Johnson court case. Local media reports suggested the club was preparing to cancel his short-lived contract.

A FIFA statement explained that the dispute followed an order by the players’ status committee in July 2013 that Eboué should pay agent Sebastien Boisseau a sum properly owed under management contract.

Eboue refused to pay and, in September 2014, the FIFA disciplinary committee fined Eboué SFr 30,000 for failing to pay up. He was granted a four-month period of grace to settle his debt – failing which Boisseau would be entitled to request the imposition of a one-year ban.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport rejected an appeal by Eboué and Boisseau requested that one-year ban be imposed – which has now been ordered by the FIFA disciplinary committee.