A FIFA disciplinary committee has found both Barcelona and the Spanish FA guilty of breaches in relation to under-age international signings and has banned the La Liga giants from business for two full transfer windows.
In a statement released by the governing body, FIFA 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 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 statement goes on to read: “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.”
Barcelona were found to be in breach of the regulations related to ten youth player registrations.
The Catalan outfit’s La Masia academy has become world renowned for its quality of youth development and this case has cast a cloud over the club’s reputation. The school’s most famous graduate Lionel Messi came to the academy from Rosario, Argentina, at just 11 years-of-age. Having being diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency, Barca offered to pay his medical expenses.
FIFA have 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 Swiss Franc 450,000 (around €370,000). Additionally, the club was granted a period of 90 days in which to regularise the situation of all minor players concerned.
It’s not the first instance of Barcelona’s involvment in player transfer controversy in recent times. In January, club president Sandro Rosell resigned following a Spanish court’s decision to look into the signing of Brazilian star Neymar amid allegations of unpaid tax.
Read the FIFA statement in full