FIFA have banned Chelsea from signing new players until the summer of 2020.
The results of a three-year investigation into the signing of players under the age of 18 have led to FIFA imposing the two-window transfer ban on the west London club, while they have also been fined along with the English Football Association.
Both Chelsea and the FA have released statements saying that they will appeal the charges by FIFA, while there is the possibility they can push this case all the way to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
While the appeal is ongoing, Chelsea’s ban of signing players for two transfer windows will be delayed so they could indeed sign players in the upcoming summer window to prepare themselves for an inevitable ban.
FIFA stated that Chelsea “were found to have breached art. 19 of the Regulations in the case of twenty-nine (29) minor players and to have committed several other infringements relating to registration requirements for players. The club also breached art. 18bis of the Regulations in connection with two agreements it concluded concerning minors and which allowed it to influence other clubs in transfer-related matters.”
In recent cases involving the improper signing of young players Spanish giants Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid were handed transfer bans in 2016, while Barcelona were handed a 14-month transfer ban over the signing of young players back in 2014.
FIFA’s investigation into the signing of 92 youth players at Chelsea revealed issues with 29 of the signings, and the investigation itself focused heavily on the registration of Bertrand Traore who signed his first pro deal at the club at the age of 18 in 2013 but wasn’t registered until January 2014. There are also reports that Traore played for Chelsea’s youth teams when he was just 16 years old.
It is illegal under rules for clubs to sign foreign players unless their family move for non-soccer reasons, the club is within 100km of the players’ home or if the clubs they are transferring to are both in the EU and the player is aged 16-18. In the latter case there are several guidelines which must be followed including housing, education and living fees.
Chelsea’s statement finished by saying that they have “acted in accordance with the relevant regulations and will shortly be submitting its appeal to FIFA.”
“Chelsea FC has today received a decision from the FIFA Disciplinary Committee concerning alleged breaches of the FIFA Regulations that relate to the international transfer of players under the age of 18. The decision imposes a transfer ban of two consecutive registration periods and a fine of 600k Swiss francs. Chelsea FC categorically refutes the findings of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee and will therefore be appealing the decision.”
The FA said they “intend to appeal against the decision” and “continue to work with FIFA and Chelsea in a constructive manner to address the issues which are raised by this case.”
The governing body of English soccer added that it has “raised concerns” about some of FIFA’s disciplinary processes.
This situation is far from ideal for Chelsea and their manager Maurizio Sarri, especially as the team is struggling on the pitch in recent weeks and clearly needs a massive overhaul in terms of new players.
Chelsea will still be able to sell players during the transfer ban, but can they really afford to let Eden Hazard leave in the summer if they’re unable to replace him? We now know why the Blues were eager to sign Christian Pulisic in January, and possibly why Gonzalo Higuain’s loan move from Juventus is for 18 months…
Looking at the bigger picture: Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich hasn’t watched a game this season amid ongoing visa issues with the UK government and reports suggest he may sell the club after becoming disinterested as he also put a stop to plans to rebuild Stamford Bridge. This issue will likely upset Abramovich further and any potential new owner will be operating with limitations if this transfer ban is enforced.