Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid have each been handed a one-year transfer ban by Fifa for breaching regulations over the transfer of players under the age of 18, with the ruling similar to the one imposed on La Liga champions Barcelona in 2014, throwing Real’s transfer interest in David De Gea and Eden Hazard into serious doubt.
News emerged in December that Fifa had been investigating both Madrid clubs over youth transfers, and it was expected that disciplinary action would be taken against them, with confirmation coming today from the governing body over the sanctions.
Fifa informed both Real and Atletico of their decision, with a two transfer window ban imposed on them that will prevent the clubs from registering any new signings made during that period.
A Fifa statement read: “The Fifa Disciplinary Committee has sanctioned Spanish clubs Atlético de Madrid and Real Madrid for breaches relating to the international transfer and registration of players under the age of 18.
“The two clubs were found to have violated several provisions concerning the international transfer and first registration of minor players as well as other relevant provisions with regard to the registration and participation of certain players in competitions.
“Both clubs are to serve a transfer ban that prevents them from registering any players at national and international level for the next two complete and consecutive registration periods for breaching articles 5, 9, 19 and 19bis as well as annexes 2 and 3 of the Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players (the “Regulations”). The transfer ban, which does not affect the current registration period at all, given that it opened before the decisions were notified, applies to each club as a whole – with the exception of the women’s, futsal and beach soccer teams – and does not prevent the release of players.”
The ruling means that both Real and Atletico are free to sign player in the current transfer window, but will not be allowed to make additional signings in the summer transfer window later this year as well as the January transfer window in 2017.
As well as the bans, Atletico have been fined 900,000 Swiss Francs [£622,328], while Real have been hit with a 360,000 Swiss Francs [£249,931]. The signings investigated by Fifa’s Transfer Matching System GmbH and the Discplinary Committee took place between 2005 and 2015 for Real and 2007 and 2014 for Atletico.
Barcelona were imposed with a similar ban for the January and summer transfer windows in 2015, although they were still allowed to sign Arda Turan from Atletico Madrid and Aleix Vidal from Sevilla during the summer. Neither player was allowed to make a competitive appearance for the first-team though, and have since made their debuts in 2016.
Real and Atletico have been found guilty of breaching Article 19 of Fifa’s Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players, which states that “International transfer of players are only permitted if the player is over the age of 18”. Exceptions to this rule include if a player’s parents are moving to the country of the new club for reasons other than football, the transfer is between two European Union nations and that they are aged between 16 and 18, or a player lives no further than 50km from a national border to the country they are moving to.
Manchester United goalkeeper De Gea came within minutes of joining Real in the summer only to see his move fail to beat the deadline after a delay in paperwork completion, and it was expected that Real would relaunch the move in the summer. They have also been linked with a move for Chelsea’s out-of-form winger Eden Hazard.
However, both clubs can appeal the decision and could have the transfer embargo delayed until any hearing is completed. Atletico have already announced their intention to appeal the ban, with a club statement reading: "Our club is not in agreement with the sanction from international football's governing body and will study all the documentation we've received to present an appeal against the sanction."
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