Barcelona slapped with transfer ban
By Eric Wilkins, Sports Editor
Barcelona’s temperature is quite pleasant these days, hovering around the 20 degree Celsius range. But while the citizens find themselves in warm weather, FC Barcelona finds itself in hot water. A FIFA investigation has landed the club in a less than favourable situation
The most recent scandal to rock Camp Nou is the club being banned by FIFA from signing any new players over the next two transfer windows (summer and January) due to Barcelona violating the transfer regulations regarding youth players. With Victor Valdes injured for seven months (and leaving the club in the summer regardless) and Carles Puyol set to retire, the ban could not come at a worse time. Barcelona will be able to fill the holes at keeper and centre-back without hitting the market but doing so internally is definitely not their first choice.
A youth player—under the age of 18—may only transfer if their parents move to the country for reasons other than the advancement of their child’s career (i.e., for a new job). If the player is 16 or older though, a move can be made within Europe should certain educational and living criteria be achieved. These rules are in place to protect players and their families and shouldn’t be taken lightly.
FIFA’s statement on the issue was: “The disciplinary committee emphasized that the protection of minors in the context of international transfers is an important social and legal issue that concerns all stakeholders in football. Above all, the committee highlighted that while international transfers might, in specific cases, be favourable to a young player’s sporting career, they are very likely to be contrary to the best interests of the player as a minor.”
Needless to say, Barcelona was less than pleased with the decision and plans to appeal it. “We’re victims of a grave injustice. With this decision, FIFA is penalizing a model that has worked for 35 years, it is penalizing the club… We have no intention of changing our model… This model is what has allowed our club and its football to be the most successful in the last decade,” said club president Josep Maria Bartomeu.
Bartomeu is being a little overdramatic here. While it is a harsh penalty, Barcelona likely is guilty of violating the rules. FIFA is no shining example of righteousness itself, but it wouldn’t take such action if substantial evidence didn’t exist.
That being said, this is a case of a club being made an example of. To put it in the other football’s terms, Barcelona are the New England Patriots. Every single team in the league was videotaping signals and searching for ways to get a leg up on the competition, but what was the NFL to do? Penalize every team? Of course not. Just like the Patriots, Barcelona is a top team; slap them with a heavy punishment and others will have to take notice.
With the ban in the news and the tax fraud incident around Neymar’s signing still fresh in the minds of many, one almost forgets amidst all the trouble that Barcelona is deep in the Champions League and a real contender to take home the Spanish La Liga title again. They may be rubbish at playing games off the pitch, but they’re still dynamite on it.