Sunday 20 October 2019

Chelsea to appeal FIFA transfer ban

The Blues have been handed a two-window registration ban and fined by FIFA’s disciplinary committee.

Chelsea have been handed a two-window transfer ban for breaching regulations on recruitment of minors (Nick Potts/PA)
Chelsea have been handed a two-window transfer ban for breaching regulations on recruitment of minors (Nick Potts/PA)

By Matt McGeehan, Press Association Sport

Chelsea have been barred from making any signings until July 2020 as punishment for breaking FIFA regulations over the transfer of minors.

The Blues were issued with a two-window registration ban and fined 600,000 Swiss francs (over £460,000) by FIFA’s disciplinary committee over the recruitment of 29 players aged under 18.

The Football Association was fined 510,000 Swiss francs (over £390,000) for breaching the rules in connection with minors.

Chelsea “categorically refutes the findings” and will appeal. The FA will also contest its penalty.

FIFA on Friday announced Chelsea had been sanctioned for contravening article 19, which governs the international transfers of under-18s. The Blues were also penalised for twice breaching regulations relating to third-party influence, article 18bis, FIFA said.

FIFA regulations prohibit the international transfer of players under 18, unless in specific circumstances not related to football. Players aged 16 to 18 can move within the European Union.

FIFA said in a statement: “The FIFA disciplinary committee has sanctioned the English club Chelsea FC and The Football Association for breaches relating to the international transfer and registration of players under the age of 18.

“Chelsea was found to have breached art. 19 of the Regulations in the case of twenty-nine (29) minor players and to have committed several other infringements relating to registration requirements for players.

“The club also breached art. 18bis of the regulations in connection with two agreements it concluded concerning minors and which allowed it to influence other clubs in transfer-related matters.

“The disciplinary committee sanctioned Chelsea with a ban on registering new players at both national and international level for the next two (2) complete and consecutive registration periods.

“This ban applies to the club as a whole – with the exception of the women’s and futsal teams – and does not prevent the release of players.”

Bertrand Traore, centre, played for Chelsea aged 16 in an apparent breach of FIFA regulations (PA)

Chelsea were given 90 days “to regularise the situation of the minor players concerned”, FIFA said.

The FA was given six months “to address the situation concerning the international transfer and first registration of minors in football”.

The Press Association in January 2016 highlighted possible irregularities in the signing of Bertrand Traore by Chelsea.

Chelsea officially signed Traore in January 2014, the first transfer window after his 18th birthday, but it emerged he played for the club more than two years earlier, when he was 16.

FIFA on Friday would not confirm if Traore’s transfer was one of the 29 for which Chelsea have been punished, but it was the trigger for the investigation.

Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid have all been sanctioned for similar offences.

Barcelona contested their two-window sanction, unsuccessfully, but their appeal delayed the penalty and allowed them to sign players.

Real Madrid’s penalty was reduced following an appeal to one January window, which had little impact.

Chelsea swiftly announced their intention to appeal, saying in a statement: “Chelsea FC categorically refutes the findings of the FIFA disciplinary committee and will therefore be appealing the decision,” the club statement read.

“The club wishes to emphasise that it respects the important work undertaken by FIFA in relation to the protection of minors and has fully cooperated with FIFA throughout its investigation.

“Initially, Chelsea FC was charged under Articles 19.1 and 19.3 in relation to 92 players.

“We welcome the fact that FIFA has accepted that there was no breach in relation to 63 of these players, but the club is extremely disappointed that FIFA has not accepted the club’s submissions in relation to the remaining 29 players.

“Chelsea FC acted in accordance with the relevant regulations and will shortly be submitting its appeal to FIFA.”

The FA indicated it would also appeal against the decision.

“The FA notes the decision of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee published today,” it said in a statement.

“The FA has co-operated fully with FIFA’s investigations, although we have raised some concerns with FIFA regarding its disciplinary processes.

“The FA intends to appeal the decision. We will however continue to work with FIFA and Chelsea in a constructive manner to address the issues which are raised by this case.

“As this is an ongoing legal process it would not be appropriate to comment further at this time.”

Eden Hazard could leave Chelsea this summer (Nigel French/PA)

The punishment will not prevent Chelsea selling players and could help to create a pathway to the first team for players in the club’s highly successful academy.

However, there is the possibility of established players leaving without being immediately replaced.

Eden Hazard has long been linked with a summer move to Real Madrid and his contract expires in June 2020, while 18-year-old winger Callum Hudson-Odoi was linked with a January move to Bayern Munich and will also have 12 months remaining on his deal at the end of the season.

Chelsea in January signed United States international Christian Pulisic from Borussia Dortmund, allowing him to remain in the Bundesliga on loan for the rest of the season.

The Blues also have options in place to extend Gonzalo Higuain’s six-month loan from Juventus, either through a further loan or a permanent deal.

Given Chelsea currently hold Higuain’s registration, it is uncertain if he would be permitted to remain at Stamford Bridge.

FIFA refused to comment on a specific case.

Mateo Kovacic’s loan from Real Madrid ends this summer and it is unknown if there is an option to buy included, so his long-term future is also unknown.

Meanwhile, Chelsea face a third disciplinary charge from UEFA following a pitch invasion in Thursday’s Europa League win over Malmo, who have been charged for their supporters brandishing flares. Both clubs were already facing action from the first leg.

The case of anti-Semitic chanting by Chelsea fans at Vidi in Hungary will be heard on Thursday.

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