Sports / Soccer

FIFA hits Barcelona with signing ban

By Associated Press (China Daily) Updated: 2014-04-04 07:16

Barcelona was banned by FIFA from signing new players for next season after being found guilty on Wednesday of repeatedly breaching transfer regulations in bringing youth players to its renowned La Masia program.

The sanction, which covers the summer and January transfer periods, followed an investigation over the past year into Barcelona's signing of players under 18 from 2009-13.

FIFA found the signing of 10 unidentified players to be in breach of its rules covering the protection of minors. A fine of $509,000 was imposed on Barcelona, which was given 90 days "to regularize the situation of all minor players concerned".

The club released a 14-point rebuttal, vowing to appeal the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport if it did not succeed in reversing the decision with soccer's governing body.

"Ever since FIFA opened the case, the players' licenses were canceled and they have not participated in any official games," Barcelona said in a statement that defended La Masia as "an example" of social responsibility in educating young players on and off the field.

"These players have all been given the option to remain with the club despite their licenses being revoked," the statement said.

The Spanish Football Federation was found by FIFA to have violated the rules covering the registration of minors and was fined $565,500.

Barcelona said in February 2013 that FIFA had sent a communication instructing it not to select six under-18 players for youth matches: South Korea's Lee Seung-woo, Paik Seung-ho and Jang Gyeolhee; France's Theo Chendr; Nigerian-Dutchman Bobby Adekanye and Cameroon's Patrice Sousia.

The international transfer of players under the age of 18 can only be approved if their parents move to the country for non-soccer reasons. Players between 16 and 18 can move within Europe if certain standards of education and living conditions are met.

The punishment leaves in doubt Barcelona's agreements with Borussia Moenchengladbach goalkeeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen and Croatian teenager Alen Halilovic.

Barcelona had three working days to inform FIFA of an intention to appeal and an additional week to provide its reasons for challenging the punishment.

Chelsea of England's Premier League had a one-year transfer embargo imposed after being found by FIFA to have induced teenager Gael Kakuta to leave Lens, but the penalty was overturned in 2010 by the CAS.

FIFA tightened its rules on transferring minors in 2010, to help end what the global players' union FIFPro described as the equivalent of "child trafficking".

(China Daily 04/04/2014 page23)

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