Chelsea's chief executive Peter Kenyon and his Manchester United counterpart David Gill launched robust defences of their clubs yesterday, Kenyon insisting the controversial signing of teenager Gaël Kakuta was not "child trafficking".
Fifa and Uefa both want to outlaw international transfers of players aged under 18, and the bodies' presidents Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini have respectively referred to the practice as being akin to "child slavery" and "child trafficking". But Kenyon said: "It was something that happened two years ago that was in no way child trafficking. I think you've also got to distinguish between the issues."
Kakuta, now 18, had also been stunned by Fifa's verdict, Kenyon said. "He wants to play his profession, which is football. We need to take account for that and understand this is something that happened two years ago, and make sure we've got enough support around him to ensure he's fully supported at a difficult time."
Gill, like Kenyon speaking after a meeting of the European Club Association in Geneva, said it was "an insult" by Le Havre to suggest that United had paid money to 16-year-old Paul Pogba and bought his parents a house to procure a move. "We will not accept the good name of Manchester United being trawled around ... to say that we have done these things which we are not allowed to do and we would never do." Of Le Havre's threatened complaint to football's global governing body, Gill said: "They can do whatever they feel is appropriate. We can defend our case in the football bodies. We are very comfortable doing that."
But smaller clubs are also defiant. The day after Leeds United were awarded £600,000, rising to a possible £1m for 16-year-old defender Luke Garbutt, the club's chief executive Shaun Harvey said Premier League clubs should lose points if they are found to have illegally induced players away.
"We appeal to the authorities to mount a combined review of the registration system to provide further financial assurances for clubs who lose players to predator clubs," Harvey said. "Compensation awards are no longer a sufficient deterrent and perhaps now is the time to start considering points deductions." Crewe Alexandra have tabled an official complaint to the Football Association abut Liverpool's approach for 15-year-old Max Clayton.Reuse content