Footballs world governing body FIFA have given Spanish champions Barcelona a 14-month transfer ban for breaking rules on signing international players under the age of 18.
The football giants will not be allowed to buy or sell any players until the summer of 2015 which covers two precious transfer windows.
Further, the Catalan club have been fined 450,000 Swiss Francs (£305,000), though the effect of this particular action is unlikely to have such an impact as the transfer ban. Additionally, the club is to be granted a period of 90 days in which to regularise the situation of all minor players concerned.
FIFA’s statement read: “The RFEF and FC Barcelona were found to have violated several provisions concerning the international transfer and first registration of non-Spanish minors with the club, as well as other relevant regulations with regard to the registration and participation of certain players in national competitions.” Barcelona violated Act 19 over the transfer of ten minor players.
It goes on to say, “The actions taken by FIFA follow a investigation by web-based TMS, FIFA’s transfer matching system brought in in 2010 which monitors transfer activity using internally-developed market intelligence, external sources and information received from the FIFA Players’ Status & Governance and Disciplinary & Governance departments.”
The debate between whether we should protect very young players or let them flourish at the ‘best’ clubs goes on. On one hand young players are seeing that it getting more difficult to break through into the first-team in any club, and thus will want to go to the best clubs to improve their chances. It also benefits clubs as they have a greater pool of talent. But, on the other hand is the law drawn up by FIFA. They say: “Young football players are vulnerable to exploitation and abuse in a foreign country without the proper controls. This particular fact makes the protection of minors in football by the sport’s governing bodies, especially by FIFA, even more important.”
Ultimately, Barcelona will have to rely on the renowned ‘La Masia’, the clubs academy which develops over 300 players at any one time. It has famously produced the current crop of stars including Messi, Iniesta, Puyol and Xavi.
Gerrard Deulofeu, currently on loan at Everton, is an exciting homegrown prospect and one likely to be held dear by Barça particularly over the length of the transfer ban. Watch him in action below as a junior;