Premier League champions Chelsea could find themselves in some real trouble with FIFA after being accused of illegally signing young players.
According to the Guardian, the Blues are still under the microscope following a FIFA investigation that determined they recruited 25 foreign players under the age of 18. The number could possibly rise too, with the matter now in the hands of FIFA's disciplinary committee - who do have the power to impose bans as they see fit.
Football's governing body had previously announced that they were looking into the Stamford Bridge's side's affairs after suspicions over rule contraventions were raised.
“We can confirm that an investigation is ongoing,” FIFA announced back in September of last year. “We cannot provide any details concerning the matters under investigation.”
As things stand, the organisation prohibits clubs from signing foreign players who haven't turned 18, unless their parents have moved to the pertinent country for reasons other than footballing ones, or unless the player and club are stationed within 50km of a national border.
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The only other exemption allows for players to be signed within the European Union or a European Economic Area, where the minimum age is 16. And in such a case, the club in question must see to it that the youngster continues with his academic life for a career outside of football.
FIFA are said to have flagged 25 young players whom the Blues may have signed illegally, and are still conducting a forensic search of the club's academy.
The committee can also look into transfers which occurred over the past 10 years, leaving Chelsea quite susceptible to being punished.
“Chelsea FC complies with all FIFA statutes and regulations when recruiting players,” a spokesman has said on behalf of the club.
But this is actually the third time in eight years that the Blues are being investigated for such an infringement.