FIFA has issued Chelsea with a two-window transfer ban and a £460,000 fine after the club was found guilty of serious and systematic breaches of the rules regarding the signing of foreign players under the age of 18.
Following a lengthy investigation, the London club was found guilty of 29 infractions of Article 19 – the most serious infringement pertaining to the registration of minors – among a number of other breaches.
Chelsea has been handed a 90 day limit to “regularise the situation of the minor players concerned”. The regulatory clampdown could involve the club being forced to let go of players who joined the club in contravention of the rules.
FIFA, according to a statement, is said to be allowing “a period of six months to address the situation concerning the international transfer and first registration of minors in football.”
Roman Abramovich’s Chelsea has previously been sanctioned in 2010, over the signing of Gaël Kakuta from RC Lens three years earlier. Following that deal, the Blues were hit with a transfer ban, but after appealed the decision, it was overturned.
At the time, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas) stated: “In the agreement, the two clubs and the player have recognised that the contract between the two clubs and the player was not valid.
“Accordingly, the player could not have terminated it prematurely and without just cause.”
Similarly, the club’s latest sanctioning follows an investigation over the signing of Burkina Faso winger, Bertrand Traore, who currently plays in Ligue 1 for Lyon. Following his 2013 departure from Auxerre, Traore made just 16 appearances for the Chelsea first team.
The club has since decided to appeal the decision, there is a possibility that the sanction could be delayed until after the summer transfer windows, allowing the club to sign players between June and August.
Chelsea stated: “The club wishes to emphasise that it respects the important work undertaken by FIFA in relation to the protection of minors and has fully cooperated with FIFA throughout its investigation. Initially, Chelsea FC was charged under Articles 19.1 and 19.3 in relation to 92 players.
“We welcome the fact that FIFA has accepted that there was no breach in relation to 63 of these players, but the club is extremely disappointed that FIFA has not accepted the club’s submissions in relation to the remaining 29 players.
“Chelsea FC acted in accordance with the relevant regulations and will shortly be submitting its appeal to FIFA.”
Insider Insight: The news of the sanction comes as a blow to Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri, who is currently clinging to his job after a disappointing season so far. A number of key players have contracts due to end next season, including Chelsea’s star player Eden Hazard.
Nonetheless, the restrictions may force Chelsea to utilise the extensive list of young players the club has out on loan. It may also allow the criminally underused, England talents, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ruben Loftus-Cheek to gain some much needed and deserved first team football.