FC Barcelona, which has won four of the last five Spanish football championships, will not be allowed to make signings in two straight transfer periods, as FIFA leveled a ban on Wednesday relating to the club breaking the rules governing international transfers of players under 18.
FIFA did not say when the punishment will begin, but if levied immediately, it would be for the summer of 2014 and winter of 2015. It also comes with a fine that equates to $508,000.
“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," FIFA wrote about its investigation, which started last year. “The investigations concerned several minor players who were registered and participated in competitions with the club over various periods between 2009 and 2013.”
International youth transfers can only take place under three situations.
- If a player's parents have moved countries for non-soccer related reasons.
- If the move takes place within the European Union and a player is between 16 and 18 years old.
- If the player's home is less than 50 kilometers from the national border being crossed.
Barcelona was also cited for violations in February 2013, when FIFA found that six players — Koreans Lee Seung-Woo, Jang Gyeol-Hee and Paik Seung-Ho, Frenchman Theo Chendri, Nigerian-Dutch player Bobby Adekanye and Cameroonian Patrice Sousia — from two of its youth teams were in breach of the transfer rules.
The transfer period signing ban could have major ramifications for Barcelona, the top ranked UEFA club team, but the team is taking a measured stance.
Said a team spokesperson: “We are relaxed. It is a habitual process in which we have 90 days to explain how we signed these players.”
The club is expected to appeal. SI WIRE: Report: FIFA committee members threatened corruption probe