Chelsea have been banned from signing any new players in the next two transfer windows by FIFA, after breaking rules that relate to young players.
The ban is implemented immediately, and will end in February 2020, after the next Summer and Winter transfer windows close. The ruling does not prevent them from releasing any players, and doesn’t affect their women’s team.
They have also been fined £460,000, whilst the FA has been fined £390,000 for their part in the rules breach.
It comes following a Fifa investigation into Chelsea’s signing of foreign under-18 players, including former striker Bertrand Traore. The world governing body says it found breaches in 29 cases.
A spokesperson for English football’s governing body said it had “co-operated fully” with the investigations and had “raised some concerns” regarding Fifa’s disciplinary processes.
A statement said: “The FA intends to appeal against the decision. We will, however, continue to work with Fifa and Chelsea in a constructive manner to address the issues which are raised by this case.”
In the Traore case, Chelsea admitted they paid his mother £155,000, as well as a further £13,000 to the club she chaired – AJE Bobo-Dioulasso – in April 2011 to allow them first refusal over his signature.
He was signed on a four and a half year deal, despite the limit for under-18 contracts being three years. It is also alleged that Traore made 25 appearances for the Chelsea under-16, under-18 and first teams, despite not being registered.
Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid both received bans for breaching rules over the signing of minors in early 2016, while fellow Spanish club Barcelona were given a 14-month ban after breaking rules for signing international under-18s in 2014.
However, a Barcelona appeal saw their punishment pushed back a year, allowing the club to sign Luis Suarez, Ivan Rakitic, Jeremy Mathieu, Claudio Bravo and Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
Fifa bans the transfer of under-18s to different countries unless they meet strict criteria. It brought in the rules to help protect children from exploitation and trafficking.
Under-18s can only be transferred abroad if:
- The player’s parents move to the country in which the new club is located for non-footballing reasons.
- Both clubs are in the European Union or European Economic Area and the player is aged between 16 and 18. Even then, the buying club must meet more criteria relating to education, training, living conditions and support.
- They live within 100km of the club.
Chelsea have been given three days to appeal.