Barcelona Transfer Ban News and Updates
FIFA has just announced today that it has sanctioned FC Barcelona for alleged violations of the international transfer and registration of players under the age of 18. The club has responded with an official statement that challenges the veracity of the allegations and points to its ongoing compliance with FIFA regulations.
The sanction arrives at a most unfortunate time for FC Barcelona due to the evident need that the club has for new signings due to the injuries to key players, ongoing roster weaknesses, and the intention to transfer some of the less stellar players currently on the club.
Below, you may find the full text of the official FIFA statement on the Barcelona transfer ban as well as the official FC Barcelona response to the FIFA sanctions.
Check back regularly, as we will be providing news and updates as the situation merits.
Official FIFA Statement on Barcelona Transfer Ban:
The FIFA Disciplinary Committee has sanctioned the Real Federación Española de Fútbol (RFEF) and Spanish club FC Barcelona for breaches relating to the international transfer and registration of players under the age of 18.
The sanctions follow investigations initially conducted by FIFA Transfer Matching System GmbH (FIFA TMS) over the course of last year and subsequently by the FIFA Disciplinary Committee as part of disciplinary proceedings. The RFEF and FC Barcelona were found to have violated several provisions concerning the international transfer and first registration of non-Spanish minors with the club, as well as other relevant regulations with regard to the registration and participation of certain players in national competitions. The investigations concerned several minor players who were registered and participated in competitions with the club over various periods between 2009 and 2013.
Currently, the main provision relating to the protection of minors in the context of international transfers is art. 19 of the Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players (the “Regulations”). According to art. 19, international transfers of players are only permitted if the player is over the age of 18. However, the same article stipulates that international transfers of minor players are permitted under three limited circumstances, and such exceptions may only be granted after evaluation by the sub-committee of the Players’ Status Committee.
In this respect, the Disciplinary Committee emphasised that the protection of minors in the context of international transfers is an important social and legal issue that concerns all stakeholders in football. Above all, the committee highlighted that while international transfers might, in specific cases, be favourable to a young player’s sporting career, they are very likely to be contrary to the best interests of the player as a minor. On the basis of this analysis, the committee concluded that “the interest in protecting the appropriate and healthy development of a minor as a whole must prevail over purely sporting interests.”
The Disciplinary Committee underlined that FIFA takes the protection of minors in football very seriously. The protection of minors is one of the key principles included in the agreement concluded between FIFA, UEFA and the European Commission in 2001. The Disciplinary Committee acknowledged that young football players are vulnerable to exploitation and abuse in a foreign country without the proper controls. This particular fact makes the protection of minors in football by the sport’s governing bodies, especially by FIFA, even more important.
With regard to the case in question, FC Barcelona has been found to be in breach of art. 19 of the Regulations in the case of ten minor players and to have committed several other concurrent infringements in the context of other players, including under Annexe 2 of the Regulations.
The Disciplinary Committee regarded the infringements as serious and decided to sanction the club with a transfer ban at both national and international level for two complete and consecutive transfer periods, together with a fine of CHF 450,000. Additionally, the club was granted a period of 90 days in which to regularise the situation of all minor players concerned.
With regard to the RFEF, the Disciplinary Committee determined that the association had also violated art. 19 of the Regulations and other provisions in the context of the transfer and first registration of certain minor players. In this respect, the RFEF was sanctioned with a fine of CHF 500,000 and granted a period of one year in which to regularise their regulatory framework and existing system concerning the international transfer of minors in football.
In addition, the RFEF and the club were issued with a reprimand in accordance with art. 14 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code.
The web-based Transfer Matching System (TMS) became mandatory for all international transfers of professional male players within the scope of eleven-a-side football in October 2010. As early as 2009, the use of TMS was obligatory in all applications for a first registration of a minor or an international transfer involving a minor in accordance with art. 19 of the Regulations.
FIFA TMS, founded as a FIFA subsidiary in 2007, established a compliance programme in 2010 to ensure that all international transfers of professional football players are conducted through TMS in accordance with the Regulations, and to control the integrity of club and association behaviour and data in TMS. Cases involving violations of the Regulations, in particular Annexes 2 and 3, are identified and investigated and, where applicable, are then forwarded to the FIFA Disciplinary Committee for evaluation and decision. FIFA TMS monitors transfer activity using internally-developed market intelligence, external sources and information received from the FIFA Players’ Status & Governance and Disciplinary & Governance departments.
Official FC Barcelona Statement on the FIFA Transfer Saction:
Following the sanction imposed by the FIFA Disciplinary Committee on FC Barcelona (FCB) for offenses involving the transfer and registration of players under 18, FCB would like to make the following points:
- According to the official statement released by FIFA, the Royal Spanish Football Federation has also been sanctioned the transfer of international minors.
- The statute that FCB allegedly infringed upon is intended to protect minors from the actions of sports clubs that incorporate players without ensuring the required attention necessary for proper development, FCB itself does guarantee the development of its players through the model of La Masia.
- La Masia’s model incorporates educational training programs, accommodation, meals, medical care, attention to the needs of children and sports development plans. FCB forms people before athletes, a fact that has not been considered by FIFA, which applies a penalty criterion that ignores the educational function of our training program.
- All FCB players have always had their federal licenses as required by the respective federations. All of them at all times.
- Some of the players affected by FIFA’s ruling have even been called up by the Catalan Football Federation to participate in the regional championships with the Catalan team.
- Since this process was started by FIFA, the federation licenses held by the affected players have been withdrawn and they have not featured in official matches. Thus, there has been no non-regulatory participation in athletic endeavours by any of the aforementioned players.
- FC Barcelona has not breached any civil law and all children who train at La Masia are legal residents in the country.
- Players whose federal licenses have been nullified by FIFA have had the option of continuing in the Club, which is committed to ensuring their education, in order to avoid social harm, despite the fact that they are banned from featuring for FCB.
- No player of FCB is in an administrative irregular situation.
- FCB has communicated the need to revise the regulations intended to protect minors on various occasions to FIFA. The intent is to make said regulations more effective.
- FCB’s development model has always received the express recognition of FIFA, La Masia has always been used as an example of good practice.
- FCB’s candidates for the Ballon d’Or is an example of FIFA’s recognition of our sports training and development procedures.
- FCB’s training model aids the families of many players to integrate into society.
- In Catalonia alone it is estimated that 15,000 underage players born outside of Spain and registered with their federation who, according to the criteria used in this case by FIFA, would have to be considered to be in a similarly unauthorised state.
For all the above mentioned reasons, FCB will be presenting the corresponding appeal to FIFA and should it be necessary, take the resulting resolution to the Tribunal d’Arbitratge de ‘Esport (TAS). FCB will also demand the relevant interim measures needed to preserve the Club’s rights, amongst which are those along to it to sign players in transfer windows.
We will provide continuous news and updates on the Barcelona transfer ban by FIFA. Please check regularly and share the post with your social media contacts.
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