Fifa has banned Barcelona soccer club from signing any new squad members in the next two transfer windows as punishment for breaching regulations relating to the transfer and registration of players under the age of 18, Europa Press reported Wednesday.
As a result the club, which also received a fine of 450,000 Swiss francs (€370,000), will not be able to hire any new players in the next summer or winter transfer markets and will only be free to enrol new recruits from June 2015.
The Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) also received a fine of 500,000 Swiss francs (€410,000) for breaching the same regulations.
“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,” Fifa explained in a statement.
The club will only be free to enrol new recruits from June 2015
The investigations dealt with several minors registered at the club who took part in tournaments with the team over various seasons between 2009 and 2013, it said.
Soccer’s world governing body pointed out that “international transfers of players are only permitted if the player is over the age of 18” and that only the Players’ Status Committee can grant exceptions to that rule.
“With regard to the case in question, FC Barcelona has been found to be in breach of article 19 of the regulations in the case of 10 minor players and to have committed several other concurrent infringements in the context of other players,” the statement continued.
As a result of these “serious infringements” Fifa was banning Barcelona from signing new players at both national and international level for two complete and consecutive transfer periods and giving the club 90 days “to regularize the situation of all minor players concerned.”
The Catalan club has said it will appeal the decision, citing the precedent set by Chelsea, which back in November 2009 was slapped with a two-year ban on signing new players over the transfer of Gaël Kakuta, who was then 17, from French club Lens. The ban was subsequently withdrawn after the London club appealed the decision at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
The ban comes at a time when Barcelona is looking to replace key figures in its squad, notably goalkeeper Víctor Valdés and defender Carles Puyol, who are both set to leave the club at the end of season.