Real deny involvement in Barcelona ban
Real Madrid vice-president Pedro Lopez Jimenez has denied the Bernabeu club has had anything to do with the transfer ban imposed this week on Barcelona for breaking youth transfer regulations.
At a news conference on Thursday, Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu claimed that the ban had originated in a continuing campaign by unnamed enemies who want to damage the Catalan club.
Taking this lead, Barcelona-based newspaper Sport printed a large image of a black hand on its cover Friday morning, while Mundo Deportivo reported that inside the Camp Nou the suspicion was that Real Madrid were the "principal cause" of the FIFA sanction.
This 'conspiracy theory' is similar to claims pushed by Bartomeu and some Catalan journalists that Madrid president Florentino Perez was part of a high-ranking conspiracy in the Spanish capital which led to the ongoing court investigation of Neymar’s transfer to Barca last summer -- a claim Madrid furiously denied and which seemed strange given the investigation was sparked by a case taken by Barca 'socio' Jordi Cases.
And Lopez Jimenez -- a member of FIFA's Players' Status Committee -- told AS that neither he nor Perez had played a role in FIFA finding Barcelona guilty of not following the regulations regarding the transfers of minors across borders.
"Not Real Madrid nor me myself, as a member of FIFA, have had anything to do with the punishment which Barcelona have suffered," he said.
"That is the responsibility of FIFA's Disciplinary Committee. Unfortunately given what has happened, I have nothing to do with that [committee].
"My role on the Players' Status Committee has nothing to do with Florentino nor with Madrid. I was proposed for the position by the European Clubs Association, of which Barca is also a member."
Barca have said they plan to get the FIFA ban overturned, taking a case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport if necessary, with one potential avenue for appeal being the timing of the punishment’s imposition.
As Bartomeu was speaking on Thursday, the Catalan club published details of all correspondence with FIFA over the matter, to show they have co-operated with the investigation since early 2013.
However, the club maintain that the delay between FIFA's Disciplinary Committee deciding punishment was warranted, and then telling Barca a transfer ban was being imposed, was particularly strange.
"On 28 November, before the deadline set for the presentation of the information requested above, FIFA's Disciplinary Committee met and decided on the sanctions to be applied to FC Barcelona, which was not communicated to the Club until yesterday, April 2, 2014 -- four months and five days after the decision had been taken," their statement read.
"The FIFA Secretary General [Jerome Valcke] has today admitted that he is unaware of the reasons why this decision was not communicated until now."
Meanwhile, Laureano Ruiz -- former Barcelona first team coach and head of La Masia for five years in the 1970s -- has backed FIFA's decision, telling La Provincia that the practice of importing very young kids had gone too far.
"FIFA's decision is very, very correct," Ruiz said. "You must put a limit. It seems very bad to me that Barca and other teams do not follow the rules."
Ruiz said that the youngsters -- who Barca have admitted have been in limbo during the investigation, unable to play games with their youth teams -- would not be developing as they should.
"Barca, and other teams, have half a dozen kids of 11 or 12 years old who cannot play for this reason, when the most important thing for their football education is to play games," he said.
The renowned inventor of La Masia's ‘rondo’ drill and author of a book called ‘El autentico metodo del Barca' said it would be better if big clubs waited until promising players were 16 or older before bringing them in.
"I would sign players from another country or city if they are 16 or older, never before," Ruiz said. "I would never be in favour of bringing in kids of 11 or 12 years old."