Barcelona cannot sign players in two transfer windows so they will not bring in anyone in 2015 after losing their appeal to Fifa this week.
What rule does Fifa say Barcelona have broken?
Article 19 of the governing body’s rules on the transfer of players which permits international transfers of under-18s only when one of three basic criteria have been met.
And the criteria are?
That the player’s parents have moved to the country where the club is registered, and have made that move for reasons unrelated to the transfer; that there is no more than 100km between the player’s family home and the club; or that he is over 16 and moving between European countries.
So Barcelona have signed players who meet none of these criteria?
Fifa is unhappy about the signing of seven of Barcelona’s young players with Koreans Lee Seung Woo, Paik Seung-Ho and Jang Gyeolhee causing most concern.
What is Barcelona’s defence?
They say that if Fifa really wants to fight against the abuse of young players then it could not have chosen a less appropriate target because the club’s La Masia youth academy is widely recognised as one that offers the most comprehensive education and welfare network to its trainees.
The club president, Josep Maria Bartomeu, says: “Youth academies should extend beyond the boundaries of just football, forming young people and not only young players. The youngsters win and so in the end do the national football associations from where they come because they end up getting the best out of these players at national level.”
What can Barcelona do now?
They can take the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport to overrule Fifa and at least cut the sentence in half.
Will Barça now go transfer-crazy before this window closes?
That’s what the supporters are hoping for, with many calling for the club to sign Borussia Dortmund pair Mats Hummels and Marco Reus and Fiorentina’s Cuadrado; as if it were that easy. They may have to settle for the acquisition of Sao Paulo’s right-back Douglas, with the 24-year-old being loaned back to his club until the end of this season – when he would arrive to replace Dani Alves, who would by then be out of contract.
How badly will the ban affect Barça if it is not overturned by CAS?
Well, they saw it coming. It’s no coincidence that they have already spent around €145m (£116m) this summer on eight players with Luis Suarez arriving for €81m, Jérémy Mathieu for €20m, Ivan Rakitic for €18m, Marc-André Ter Stegen for €12m, Claudio Bravo for €12m and Alen Halilovic for €2.2m.
A year without signings could bring a rare stability and encourage a return to the policy of promoting youth-team players. Barcelona’s B team finished third in Spain’s second division last season and many of those players will be ready to step up in 2015.
And as the young players at the centre of the controversy get older they cease to be on the wrong side of Fifa’s regulations. French teenager Théo Chendri, who, aged 15, had to stop playing competitive matches for the club, has since turned 16 and is playing. And the most exciting prospect of the players whose contracts have upset Fifa, Lee Seung Woo, will be 18 in 2006. He has opted to stay at La Masia, signing a professional contract which means he must wait only until he comes of age before he starts playing in anything more than friendlies.
On Friday: Who will win La Liga?