FIFA rejects Barca transfer ban appeal
Barcelona will be unable to sign any players in 2015 after FIFA rejected their appeal against a ban imposed for repeatedly breaking youth transfer regulations.
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In April, FIFA banned Barcelona from signing any players for two consecutive transfer windows after the club were found guilty of breaching regulations in place to avoid the exploitation and trafficking of young players.
FIFA agreed to suspend the measure pending an appeal and the Catalan club have been busy during the current transfer window, spending over 150 million euros on Luis Suarez, Ivan Rakitic, Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Claudio Bravo, Thomas Vermaelen, Alen Halilovic and Jeremy Mathieu.
Despite Barca issuing a statement on Wednesday to confirm club officials had met FIFA counterparts in Zurich and say the process was ongoing, world football's governing body has now thrown out their claim.
Barcelona immediately signalled their intention to take their case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in a final bid to get the ban overturned. In February 2010, Chelsea had their transfer ban been lifted by CAS and were cleared of any wrongdoing regarding the transfer of teenage Frenchman Gael Kakuta from Ligue 1 club Lens in July 2007.
In a statement on their official website, the club said: "Following the resolution announced today by the FIFA Appeals Committee on violations of regulations regarding the transfer and registration of children aged under 18 years, FC Barcelona announces that it shall continue defending its interests before the highest sporting authority, in this case the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS)."
The statement said the resolution "is an affront to the spirit of our Masia, a world renowned example of academic, human and sporting education."
Barcelona will be able to sign players up to the end of the summer transfer window on Sept. 1 before the ban comes into force in January and extends through next summer. They will not be able to add to their squad again until January 2016.
A statement on FIFA's official website read: "The FIFA Appeal Committee has decided to reject the appeals lodged by Spanish club FC Barcelona and the Real Federacion Espanola de Futbol (RFEF) and to confirm in their entirety the decisions rendered by the FIFA Disciplinary Committee in the respective cases relating to the protection of minors.
"As such, FC Barcelona is to serve a transfer ban which will see the club prevented from registering any players at both national and international level for two complete and consecutive transfer periods, starting with the next registration period (January 2015) given that the appeal of the club had been granted suspensive effect by the chairman of the FIFA Appeal Committee.
"FC Barcelona has also been ordered to pay a fine of CHF 450,000 (300,000 pounds) and been given a period of 90 days from today in which to regularise the situation of all minor players concerned.
"Meanwhile, the RFEF has been ordered to pay a fine of CHF 500,000 (330,000 pounds) 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."
According to AS, Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu was not present at the meeting with FIFA, with the delegation formed by La Masia director Carles Folguera, two youth players currently at the academy and the director of the Leon XIII school, which is attended by all youngsters at the club.
Atletico Madrid director Clemente Villaverde also reportedly attended to help argue Barca's case.
Barca's argument for overturning the ban was not thought to be based on denying that FIFA's strict rules were broken.
Instead, the club asked to be viewed as an exception given their excellent facilities and reputation for developing well-rounded young players.
Only hours before Tuesday's meeting, Blaugrana sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta told reporters at Suarez's media presentation that he was confident the ban would be lifted.
"What we want is to explain [to FIFA] that the only intention of the club is to form the person to become a footballer," Zubizarreta said. "And I believe we are a reference point in this aspect."