Sunday 20 May 2018

Chelsea facing threat of FIFA transfer embargo over deal for Bertrand Traoré

Young talent: Bertrand Traoré plays in the under-18s game at the centre of the controversy Photo: PA
Young talent: Bertrand Traoré plays in the under-18s game at the centre of the controversy Photo: PA

Matt Law

Chelsea are confident they will not face a Fifa transfer embargo over their signing of Burkina Faso international Bertrand Traoré.

It has emerged that Traoré played for Chelsea Under-18s when aged just 16 in an apparent breach of Fifa regulations that prohibit the international transfer of a minor (under-18). Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid were hit with transfer embargoes for the next two complete windows after breaking the rules, but Chelsea insist they have acted in accordance with the regulations.

Chelsea argue that they struck an 'option agreement’ with the Football Association and the Premier League that allowed Traoré to play in non-competitive games for the club before taking over his registration in January 2014 after he had turned 18.

Traoré played in an under-18s match against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on Oct 23, 2011, when he was 16, which Chelsea insist was a non-competitive fixture.

Real Madrid and Atlético are contesting their embargoes, but the Real general manager, José Ángel Sánchez, claimed that Fifa had initiated disciplinary proceedings against clubs in the Premier League over possible breaches of transfer regulations.

Fifa refused to confirm whether Chelsea were under investigation.

A Chelsea spokesman said: “Bertrand Traoré was registered by Chelsea FC in January 2014 in compliance with FA and Premier League Rules. Prior to that date, he was party to an option agreement, which enabled the club to acquire his registration in January 2014. The option agreement was registered with, and approved by, both the FA and the Premier League.”

The Premier League said that all rules were followed in Chelsea’s signing of the attacking midfielder on Jan 1, 2014, the day the first transfer window opened following his 18th birthday, on Sept 6, 2013.

International transfers are only permitted for players over the age of 18 – unless the player in question meets one of three qualifying criteria. Under-18s can move to a club in a different country if their parents move there for non-footballing reasons, if they are from another nation within the European Union or European Economic Area and aged 16-18, or if they live within 100km (62 miles) of the club.

Traoré first came to prominence when he was included in the Burkina Faso squad for the 2009 Fifa Under-17s World Cup, where he was the tournament’s youngest player at the age of 14.

There were a number of clubs interested in signing the teenager, but Burkina Faso sports minister Jean-Pierre Palm announced in August 2010 that Traoré, one month prior to his 15th birthday, would sign for Chelsea. He attended the fee-paying Whitgift School in Croydon, south London, but did not play in school competitions.

Traoré shone as a trialist on Chelsea’s pre-season tour to Asia in 2013, the first of Jose Mourinho’s second spell as manager, and was loaned to Vitesse Arnhem after officially signing for the Blues.

Chelsea obtained a work permit for Traoré last summer and he has been part of the club’s first-team squad this season with interim manager Guus Hiddink recently name-checking him as an option at striker.

Hamburg want to take Traoré on loan before the transfer window shuts and, as Chelsea argue against accusations over the forward, the they should finally complete the loan signing of striker Alexandre Pato, who is due to arrive in London on Wednesday to complete his move.

Pato has agreed a deal until the end of the season and Chelsea are confident that the Brazilian will be granted a work permit on appeal.

Heading out of Chelsea is midfielder Ramires, whose move to Chinese Super League club Jiangsu Suning is on the verge of completion for around £20  million.

Meanwhile, the champions have been fined £65,000 and West Bromwich Albion £35,000 by the Football Association “after failing to ensure their players conducted themselves in an orderly fashion” during their draw at Stamford Bridge on Jan 13. The flashpoint came after an off-the-ball trip by West Brom’s Claudio Yacob on Diego Costa.

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