FA charges Cole's agent over rules on 'tapping-up' players

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The Independent Football

The final chapter in the saga of Chelsea's illegal approach to Ashley Cole 14 months ago began yesterday when the Football Association charged his agent Jonathan Barnett with breaking Fifa rules.

Barnett risks losing his licence after the meeting between him, Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon, Jose Mourinho, Israeli agent Pini Zahavi and Ashley Cole at the Royal Park Hotel in January 2005.

Sources close to the agent feel he is being made a "scapegoat" by the FA, who had to wait for Barnett and his lawyers to exhaust the legal process before they could charge him - the agent went to the Court for Arbitration in Sport in Switzerland in an attempt to have the rules on "tapping-up" players changed.

The failure to get that law changed means that Barnett will now have to face charges of breaking Fifa's code of conduct which prevents agents from encouraging their clients to break contracts.