Kenyon rejects "child trafficking" suggestions
Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon has completely dismissed the notion that the club's controversial capture of Gael Kakuta is a form of "child trafficking".
Kakuta has been catapulted into the European consciousness following FIFA's ruling that Chelsea induced him to break his contract with Lens in 2007, resulting in the club being banned from making new signings for the next two transfer windows.
Chelsea have vowed to launch the "strongest possible appeal" against the sanction but the focus on how England's big clubs conduct their business has widened, with Manchester United and Manchester City accused of similar offences in recent days.
FIFA and UEFA are looking to ban transfers of players aged under 18 and both Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini have been outspoken in their opposition to the movement of young players. However, Kenyon has drawn a clear distinction between Chelsea's acquisition of Kakuta and concerns that FIFA have over other practices.
"It was something that happened two years ago that was in no way child trafficking," said Kenyon after a meeting of the European Club Association (ECA). "I think you've also got to distinguish between the issues.''
Kenyon also revealed that Chelsea are backing proposals to end transfers of players aged under 18, adding: "This has been talked about for the last 12 months and we have signed up fully to the ECA and UEFA's position, along with FIFA's. We need to separate our overall position with the specific case. The fact we are appealing tells you our position.''
Kakuta has been banned for four months and Kenyon has vowed to ensure that the club offer the winger all the support he requires following his unfortunate rise to fame.
"He wants to play his profession, which is football," Kenyon said. "We need to take account for that and understand this is something that happened two years ago, and make sure we've got enough support around him to ensure he's fully supported at a difficult time.''
Meanwhile, Chelsea captain John Terry has echoed team-mate Frank Lampard by suggesting that controversy could make the club more determined to succeed this season.
"We are very much together at Chelsea and whatever has been thrown at us over the last two or three years we seem to become stronger," Terry said. "We will certainly do that as always."