Chelsea have been named as one of five Premier League clubs reportedly under investigation by FIFA over allegations of breaking the rules on signing foreign players under the age of 18.
Chelsea have been named as one of five Premier League clubs reportedly under investigation by FIFA over allegations of breaking the rules on signing foreign players under the age of 18 and potentially face a lengthy transfer ban if found guilty.
Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid have been hit with similar transfer bans in recent years. Chelsea themselves were also sanctioned in 2009 after being accused of encouraging Gael Kakuta to break a contract he had with Lens. That ban that was eventually lifted on appeal.
The news of this investigation from French outlet Mediapart is part of the ongoing 'Football Leaks' wave, with Chelsea the only one of the five Premier League clubs named so far. Other high profile cubs across Europe are also apparently under investigation.
It is said that FIFA's Integrity and Compliance unit is seeking a significant two-year transfer ban that would last for four transfer windows, a punishment that could severely hamper the Stamford Bridge club. There would also be a fine of 500,000 Swiss francs.
Chelsea have already responded with a short statement declaring that they had, "fully cooperated with FIFA and provided comprehensive evidence demonstrating its compliance with the applicable FIFA regulations."
The international transfer of players is outlawed by FIFA, except in cases where a player's family has emigrated for reasons unconnected to football or if the club and player are both based within 50km of a national border. There are also exceptions for players within the EU or EEA.
FIFA initially confirmed that an investigation into Chelsea's recruitment was ongoing as early as September 2017 and a report from The Guardian published back at the start of this year suggested that it related to the signing of 25 foreign players under the age of 18.
Mediapart's report puts the number at 19 players, including 14 illegally transferred minors.
FIFA is believed to have first been alerted to alleged wrongdoing by the signing of Bertrand Traore, the forward from Burkina Faso who officially signed for Chelsea shortly after his 18th birthday but was apparently pictured representing the club in a youth game aged 16.