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Sep 3, 2009

Chelsea to appeal FIFA transfer ban to 2011

Chelsea will launch the "strongest appeal possible" after FIFA banned them from signing any players until January 2011.

World football's governing body revealed on Thursday they would prevent the Blues from registering players for the next two transfer windows after being found guilty of inducing French teenager Gael Kakuta to breach his contract with Lens.

The 18-year-old winger joined Chelsea from the Ligue 1 side in 2007, after which the French club lodged a complaint with FIFA.

FIFA's Dispute Resolution Chamber (DRC) has finally passed their decision on the contractual dispute and handed down a hefty ban and substantial fine to the Blues.

Chelsea hit back at the ruling by issuing the following statement on their official website: "Chelsea will mount the strongest appeal possible following the decision of FIFA's Dispute Resolution Chamber over Gaël Kakuta.

"The sanctions are without precedent to this level and totally disproportionate to the alleged offence and the financial penalty imposed. We cannot comment further until we receive the full written rationale for this extraordinarily arbitrary decision."

FIFA will now send official documentation to Stamford Bridge and upon receipt of those notification papers Chelsea will have 10 days in which to lodge an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). Given the severity of the punishment, it is almost certain the club will take that course of action.

A statement from FIFA read: "The DRC found that the player had indeed breached a contract signed with the French club. Equally, the DRC deemed it to be established that the English club induced the player to such a breach.

"As a result the player was condemned to pay compensation in the amount of €780,000, for which the club, Chelsea, are jointly and severally liable.

"A restriction of four months on his eligibility to play in official matches has been imposed on Kakuta. Chelsea are banned from registering any new players, either nationally or internationally, for the two next entire and consecutive registration periods following the notification of the present decision.

"Furthermore, the club, Chelsea, have to pay Lens training compensation in the amount of €130,000."

Back in July 2005, Italian club Roma were similarly banned from signing players for a period of one year over the controversial signing of defender Philippe Mexes from French club Auxerre. However, on appeal the CAS later ordered FIFA to cut its ban to cover a single transfer window.

Swiss club FC Sion also found themselves in trouble in April 2009 when FIFA banned them from conducting transfers until the end of the 2009/10 season due to their capture of Egyptian goalkeeper Essam El Hadary, who was still under contract with Al-Ahly. FC Sion have appealed to the CAS, with their punishment frozen until the case is concluded.

An interesting twist would therefore surround the timing of Chelsea's appeal. It will be a number of weeks before the official papers are delivered to Stamford Bridge, from which time the club will have those 10 days to appeal. It then takes at least three months for the CAS to hear a case and that means it is highly possible Chelsea will be able to sign players for some or all of the January window.

This was the case with Roma when, after the CAS agreed to hear an appeal, their ban was suspended on August 8, 2005, allowing them to sign players for the remainder of that summer window. It took the CAS four months to hear Roma's case, and if the same happened to Chelsea it is likely that they would be unaffected in January.

Chelsea have been in trouble before over their transfer dealings and in June 2005 were found guilty of 'tapping-up' Arsenal defender Ashley Cole by the Premier League. The Blues were fined £300,000, Cole was fined £100,000 and then manager Jose Mourinho was fined £200,000.

Lille-born Kakuta, a skilful left-footed winger, is viewed as one of Chelsea's most promising young players, although injuries have blighted his time at Stamford Bridge. An excellent first season ended with the Frenchman being voted the Academy's Scholar of the Year after he emerged as the youth team's top scorer with 12 goals in 24 appearances, including six goals in Chelsea's Youth Cup run.

The 2008/09 season was a frustrating one for the France Under-17 international, who managed just seven appearances in total during an injury-curtailed campaign.

He overcame early-season hamstring problems to turn in a string of lively performances but his campaign was brought to a halt when he suffered a double ankle fracture in a friendly against the Glenn Hoddle Academy.

Kakuta's rehabilitation from the serious injury remains ongoing, although what kind of career awaits him at Chelsea on his return is now open to speculation.

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