The Fifa president Sepp Blatter said yesterday that Gaël Kakuta is not the only teenager whose move to a football club is under investigation though he indicated that most of those on Fifa's books relate to the transfer of players from Africa and South America to Europe, rather than France to England.
In his first public statement since Chelsea were barred from two transfer windows last week, Blatter warned that other clubs would be brought to book and could not escape detection by claiming that the young players they had secured were not contractually bound to them. "There are clubs now who are looking at their books, some have even announced that a certain player has no contract with them and he is an amateur. They have done this to try to make sure that the player does not come under the jurisdiction of congress," said Blatter, after opening a new Football Association of Wales training complex in the Vale of Glamorgan.
Blatter said Fifa was committed to dealing with the practice of buying up young players and leaving them stranded when things don't work out – a practice actually more prevalent in France than England, where the level of pastoral care is substantial. "They are taken at 14 or 15 years old with clubs saying that their parents are going too. But they get put into another family, and what happens to them?" Blatter asked. "One out of say 20 has a chance to go on in their career. The others are left, and they need to be protected."
Blatter also suggested that he considered the decision in the Kakuta case, which will see Chelsea banned from transfer window transactions until January 2011, to be final. "We have now had a case [Chelsea] to analyse. It has been done by a committee with a judge and representatives of many clubs. That has now been settled.
"I have been asked by officials in Brazil to stop the exodus of their young players. We will do the same in Africa. We are trying to organise leagues [in South America and Africa] so players there can earn a decent living. That takes time, but we have started because it is the only way to protect young players."
Manchester City will argue that the Rennes player Jérémy Hélan was offered to them by a third party, if Fifa ask them to explain their conduct in bringing him to Eastlands from France. Hélan found himself stranded in Manchester after Sir Alex Ferguson cooled on the idea of signing him last year – because of his prior contractual arrangements, according to Rennes, who insist he is their player. City are confident that the legal advice which led them to reject Rennes' written protestations is watertight but the fact that they did not go to the Clairefontaine academy to seek the player may help them.
There were no developments yesterday in the case of Michael Fornasier whose move to Manchester United the Italian club Fiorentina have taken up with Fifa. Fifa said on Monday that they are still awaiting further documentation before examining the case, though there is a widespread belief in Italy that the absence of pre-contracts of the kind French clubs tie their players to make the prospect of the kind of punishment brought by Lens against Chelsea in the Kakuta case far more unlikely.
* Manchester City's injury problems continue to mount. Carlos Tevez now looks likely to miss one of the most keenly anticipated Manchester derbies in years, on Sunday week. Robinho, who injured a thigh playing in Brazil's 3-1 win over Argentina, is also a doubt for the derby game.
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