The La Liga champions have been banned from signing any players for the next two transfer windows.
La Liga giants Barcelona have been banned from making any signings for the next two transfer windows by FIFA for breaking rules over international transfers of under-18s.
The Spanish FA have also been sanctioned with a FIFA statement reading: “The RFEF and FC Barcelona were found to have violated several provisions concerning the international transfer and first registration of non-Spanish minors with the club, as well as other relevant regulations with regard to the registration and participation of certain players in national competitions. The investigations concerned several minor players who were registered and participated in competitions with the club over various periods between 2009 and 2013.
“With regard to the case in question, FC Barcelona has been found to be in breach of art. 19 of the Regulations in the case of ten minor players and to have committed several other concurrent infringements in the context of other players, including under Annexe 2 of the Regulations.”
Article 19 under Annexe two of the regulations states:
a) The player’s parents move to the country in which the new club is located for reasons not linked to football.
b) The transfer takes place within the territory of the European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA) and the player is aged between 16 and 18. In this case, the new club must fulﬁ l the following minimum obligations:
i. It shall provide the player with an adequate football education and/or training in line with the highest national standards.
ii. It shall guarantee the player an academic and/or school and/or vocational education and/or training, in addition to his football education and/or training, which will allow the player to pursue a career other than football should he cease playing professional football.
iii. It shall make all necessary arrangements to ensure that the player is looked after in the best possible way (optimum living standards with a host family or in club accommodation, appointment of a mentor at the club, etc.).
iv. It shall, on registration of such a player, provide the relevant association with proof that it is complying with the aforementioned obligations.
c) The player lives no further than 50km from a national border and theclub with which the player wishes to be registered in the neighbouring association is also within 50km of that border. The maximum distance between the player’s domicile and the club’s headquarters shall be 100km. In such cases, the player must continue to live at home and the two associations concerned must give their explicit consent.
The Spanish FA have been told to ‘regularise their regulatory framework and existing system concerning the international transfers of minors in football’.
No specific players were mentioned in the statement.
This is not the first of any high profile ban or allegation related to players under the age of 18 has been made. Chelsea were initially banned for two transfer windows in 2009 after the signing of Gael Kakuta from Lens, when they were found guilty of inducing the player to breach his contract with the club. However that move was overturned when both Lens and Chelsea accepted his contract with the French club was not valid and the Blues ended up paying compensation of £113,000.
There are differences according to a leading sports lawyer who posted on twitter:
Chelsea "winning" the appeal vs. their transfer ban in 2010 (re. Kakuta) is not a relevant precedent for Barca. Chelsea and Lens reached 1/2— Ian Lynam (@ianlynam) April 2, 2014
2/2 settlment (c.£1m) and Lens dropped charges. Barca case involves 10 players and multiple breaches, won't settle, sure to end up in CAS.— Ian Lynam (@ianlynam) April 2, 2014
Manchester United were accused of poaching Paul Pogba from Le Havre when he was only 16 but those claims were dismissed as ‘complete nonsense’ by the club. The midfielder was subsequently moved on to Juventus.
It will be interesting to see whether Barcelona lodge an appeal given the successful appeal of Chelsea in the past.