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Mar 19, 2013

Blatter backs FIFA over Barca youth bans

Sepp Blatter has backed the FIFA youth transfer regulations under which six Barcelona youth players are suspended from competitive action.

In late February, FIFA extended a ban on Korean Lee Seung Woo, of Barca's Cadete B side, to five other youngsters across the club's youth teams.

The decision means Koreans Paik Seung-Ho (Cadete A) and Jang Gyeolhee (Cadete B), French youngster Theo Chendri (Cadete A), Nigerian-Dutchman Bobby Adekanye (Infantil A) and Cameroonian Patrice Sousia (Infantil A) are training with their teams but unable to play in competitive games.

FIFA only sanctions international youth transfers when one of the three following situations apply: the player's parents have moved country for their own, non-related reasons; the move takes place within the European Union if a player is aged between 16 and 18; or the player's home is less than 50 kilometres from the national border being crossed.

FIFA president Blatter told AS the relevant committee was currently studying the case, but suggested no exceptions were likely to be made.

"The Barca case will be studied by FIFA's Players' Status Committee," Blatter said. "But the rules for the signing of minors are very clear."

Such rules would have stopped Barcelona signing Lionel Messi from Argentina aged 13, and the Catalan club have widened their scouting net in recent years to bring in potential stars from all over the world.

Mundo Deportivo reported that blaugrana director Raul Sanllehi was discussing the situation with FIFA.

Barca claim it is unfair to apply the regulations stringently across the board because all trainees at their La Masia facility are well looked after and guaranteed an overall education and football development up to the age of 18.

Blatter said the rules were in place to protect youngsters from unscrupulous clubs and agents and stressed that FIFA must be strong on the matter.

"The popularity of football also brings some dangers," he said. "The financial success of our sport makes it, unfortunately, of interest to international mafias, who get rich due to illicit activities like match-fixing or tricking underprivileged kids with false promises of a professional career in Europe."

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