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February 2021

Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid banned from making transfers for a year. English clubs next?

By Tony Attwood

The deep rooted corruption and disregard for the rules by the three largest Spanish clubs and the Spanish Football Association has been confirmed yet again after Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid had their appeals against transfer bans rejected by Fifa, much to the embarrassment of the mainstream UK media who seek to talk the clubs up in order to retain their TV audiences.

While Fifa itself is hardly a paragon of virtue on most issues of morality, the behaviour of the three Spanish clubs in terms of flagrantly ignoring rules which are in place to protect children made even Fifa act, first with Barcelona and the Spanish FA, and now with the two major Madrid clubs.

As a result neither Real Madrid nor Atlético Madrid club can register new players during the the transfer window in January 2017 nor that in Summer 2017.   The bans do not apply to clubs’ women’s teams.

However both clubs have decided to copy Barcelona and produce a ludicrous appeal to the Court of Arbitration in Sport.  The Barcelona appeal was so lacking in any substance whatsoever that it has since become a by-word for wasting court time, but such an appeal can have the effect of dragging the issue on past the January 2017 window.  This would allow the clubs to buy, buy, buy all the way through that window, preparing them for the lack of signings in the summer of 2017 and then January 2018.

This was the approach adopted by Barcelona whose appeal became notorious for being little more than a statement that their academy was world famous and it was unthinkable that it had been doing anything wrong.

That case became also became memorable for the abuse hurled at any outlet such as Untold which sought to get details on the appeal, and for the large number of posts that we got saying that there was no appeal as the original case had been rejected out of hand by the CAS as nothing more than an attempt to destroy Barcelona’s credibility.

In the case of the Madrid clubs the bans were first imposed by Fifa’s disciplinary committee in January, but as is common in such cases were then lifted allowing the appeals to be heard, which meant that both clubs were allowed to carry on signing in the summer 2016 window.

The Fifa appeals committee statement is itself rather strong saying that it had confirmed “in their entirety the decisions rendered by the Fifa disciplinary committee in the respective cases relating to the protection of minors.”

There are also fines equating to £696,000 for Atlético and £225,000 on Real Madrid, although given the finances of each club these are of no significance.   The clubs have been given three months to sort out their own regulations concerning the signing of players under 18 and the position of all those previously signed in breach of the basic child protection rules.

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Fifa rules which ban international transfers of under-18 players except where specific protections are in place (the most common of which relate to movement within the EU and for other countries that one parent already has a job in place in the new club’s city – a job that has nothing to do with the club), close to the HQ of the team, noted particularly in these cases that the rules exist, to “protect minors who move to other countries and prevent soccer clubs from exploiting them”.  It noted that trafficking of children with the promise of playing for a top club had led to many being abandoned in their new country.  Often the children are afraid to go home, even if they can raise the money to do so, because they will be seen as having failed if their return to the homeland.

“Although Fifa’s approach may appear harsh in an individual case, it is only by enforcing the rules consistently and strictly that the abuses of the past can be avoided and a proper and safe development of minor players secured,” Fifa’s formal report on the appeals announced.

The Barcelona case came to light in early 2013 when Fifa blocked Barcelona from selecting children from South Korea, France, Nigeria and Cameroon for competitive matches.   This followed the strengthening of Fifa transfer rules in 2010 after the first allegations emerged that clubs were involved in child trafficking with agents touring third world countries in particular promising riches to families if they could take their children away.

Many went, and most were abandoned when their talent was revealed to be not high enough for clubs, but Barcelona was implicated in the trade.

The Barcelona case did however undermine CAS’ credibility in being a fair and open court when the hearings were not only held in secret but also without any public announcement of the date nor any significant announcement of the outcome.  That hearing also raised the point that if there was any defence at all to the allegations why was it not brought out at the first hearing?

In fact, from the tiny amount of information that we gained from reading the court web site it seems there was no defence or Barcelona.  But the CAS acted as if it had studied the processes of the PGMO and instead of finding them to be a dire warning of how not to proceed in judicial footballing matters, took them as a blueprint.

When this story last surfaced both accused clubs said that they will be revealing to Fifa exactly what English club/s do, and demanding that they are investigated in the same way.   Real general manager, José Ángel Sánchez, repeatedly said that Fifa has initiated disciplinary proceedings against clubs in the Premier League over possible breaches of transfer regulations.

One rumour that has gone around has been that it is Arsenal who they are looking at – but there has also been a strong suspicion that this is just sour grapes because English law is different from Spanish law in regard to 16 and 17 year olds.

The other rumour has been that it is Chelsea who are going to get tied up in this – not least because they have form in this. Chelsea were suspended from signing any new players until 2011 after signing Lens’ Gael Kakuta.   Michel Platini met the French Secretary of State for Sports Rama Yade, who advised Lens over their pursuit of damages over Kakuta.

A Uefa statement declared: ‘As a strong advocate of a ban on the international transfer of minors, Michel Platini was pleased to find in Rama Yade both an ally and a supporter on this topic, as well as on the locally trained players rule (“home-grown players”) that is approved by the European Union.

Fifa then announced it was in the process of setting up a subcommittee of the Players’ Status Committee that must ratify every international transfer of a player aged 18 or under.   Further announcements suggested that all international transfers, or maybe all transfers of under 18 year olds would be banned.
So what happened?   Well first Chelsea got themselves unbanned after reaching an agreement with Lens which involved giving them £113,000.  As for the player he played six times for Chelsea went on six loans, finally got himself a new contract with Sevilla, and has played twice for them, before playing for Chinese Super League club Hebei China Fortune.
But how did we get from there to Real Madrid being banned for 51 illegal under 18 year old transfers and Real Mad claiming they did nothing wrong?  And why are there lots of rumours circulating about a bunch of Premier League clubs being next to be picked off by Fifa?
What Fifa did was introduce its  Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players 
This included section 19,1 which said, “International transfers of players are only permitted if the player is over the age of 18” except for “where the player’s parents move to the country in which the new club is located for reasons not linked to football.”
Also as I have noted before, “international” in Fifa terms, recognises the EU as one “nation” since all EU citizens have the right to work in all EU states.   (This is why the vote to leave the EU will have a major impact on the Premier League.)
FIFA rules also say, “The conditions of this article shall also apply to any player who has never previously been registered with a club and is not a national of the country in which he wishes to be registered for the first time”
Now certain clubs whom for the sake of argument we will call Real Madrid and Barcelona saw a real loophole here.  If an agent turned up with an under 18 in tow and they wanted to sign him, the club would arrange for a third party (eg a local food store) to offer a “job” to one of the parents (as a cleaner for example) and then they would say the parent was moving to Spain to take up that job and so the child could come along.
Fifa, being bright for once, saw through this, and said, (roughly), the initial contact between club and player was before the contract date for the parent, and besides, which local store in Barcelona goes to Nigeria (or wherever) to recruit shop staff when there is 30% unemployment in Spain and the incoming shop staff don’t have work permits?
But what really made Real Mad mad (as it were) was a Court of Arbitration for Sport ruling that a mother’s statement in one Real Mad transfer that she decided to move to Spain before her son got the job, could not be relied on as truthful as it was so unlikely.
But then the crafty clubs in Spain realised that if neither national football association knew about the transfer and it just happened they would probably get away with it, since no one would be there to tell Fifa.  And by the time Fifa came along, the exact details of when the parent moved and why would be lost in a welter of also lost paperwork.
In fact it is only because, tucked away within Fifa are actually some decent people who have been trying to stop child traffickers move children around the world for money, that the Spanish scandals have come to light.
To fight back the Spanish clubs have argued that the ban on Under 16 transfers in the EU should be changed to an under 18 ban, since that would put the EU in line with the rest of the world.
The problem then is that this would be against the rights of the 16 and 17 year olds in Europe to use their position as citizens of the EU and seek work anywhere in the EU.   If Fifa tried to do it the EU would probably react.  The EU really doesn’t like Fifa and Uefa trying to tell elected representatives how to make laws.

In 2009 Fifa started to sort out the mess with a subcommittee of the Players’ Status Committee to ratify every first registration of a player.   That too is helping to slow down what the Spanish clubs can do.

Thus the rule is still the same…

“International transfers of players are only permitted if the player is over the age of 18.”

The two other exceptions are where “The transfer takes place within the territory of the European Union(EU) or European Economic Area (EEA) and the player is aged between 16 and 18….” and “The player lives no further than 50km from a national border and the club with which the player wishes to be registered in the neighbouring association is also within 50km of that border…”


“The conditions of this article shall also apply to any player who has never previously been registered with a club and is not a national of the country in which he wishes to be registered for the first time.”

So is Fifa actually looking at transfers of youngsters into the Premier League?  The PL clubs can transfer 16 and 17 year olds from other EU countries because the laws in the UK allow this until the UK finally leaves the EU.  Spain finds that annoying but that is how it is.  So there has been a lot of mumbling from clubs in Spain and it may be that some malicious stories have been circulated just to muddy the water.

But yes, it is possible that one or two large English clubs with a very international perspective and owners who do not really feel that EU and Fifa regulations apply to them, might have acted in as bad a way of Real Madrid and Barcelona.

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22 comments to Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid banned from making transfers for a year. English clubs next?

  • Mike T

    Tony yet again you mix up fact with what you really wish the case to be

    Chelseas transfer ban was overturned because quite simply the contract Lens supposedly had with the player hadn’t been signed by the player himself but his mother. Prior to him signing UEFA had advised Chelsea that no valid contract existed. FIFA ruled on the case but Chelsea immediately appealed to CAS who ruled in Chelseas favour and agreed that no valid contract existed . Lens withdrew their complaint and subsequently training compensation was agreed.

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    Had Arsenal flouted the Fifa’s rules on underaged child trafficking? I don’t imagine Arsenal had ever broken the Fifa’s rules in this regard because Arsenal with all their meticulous and careful working ethic will not deep their hands into any mud of child trafficking transfer scandal.

    I believe Kelechi Nwakali born on June 5, 1985 (18) is not underaged by the time Arsenal officially signed him during the last summer transfer window. But they didn’t sign the talented Samuel Chukwueze who was born in 1999 (17) and will be deemed by Fifa as being an underaged player outside the allowed EU 16 – 17 year old underaged player had Arsenal signed him this summer.

    Sam Chukwueze is reported to be heading to FC Porto. But would Fifa punish Porto if they eventually signed him before he clocks the mandatory 18 years? So it can be Arsenal Fifa are turning their searchlight to but could be other clubs.

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    Had Arsenal flouted the Fifa’s rules on underaged child trafficking? I don’t imagine Arsenal had ever broken the Fifa’s rules in this regard because Arsenal with all their meticulous and careful working ethic will not deep their hands into any mud of child trafficking transfer scandal.

    I believe Kelechi Nwakali born on June 5, 1985 (18) is not underaged by the time Arsenal officially signed him during the last summer transfer window. But they didn’t sign the talented Samuel Chukwueze who was born in 1999 (17) and will be deemed by Fifa as being an underaged player outside the allowed EU 16 – 17 year old underaged player had Arsenal signed him this summer.

    Sam Chukwueze is reported to be heading to FC Porto. But would Fifa punish Porto if they eventually signed him before he clocks the mandatory 18 years? So it can’t be Arsenal Fifa are turning their searchlight to but could be other clubs.

  • Gord

    Mike T

    I am probably not well equipped for this “argument”, but I will try.

    What “service” was the mother providing to Chelsea? Was it control over another sentient being who was intellectually capable of making the decision for himself? Certainly the mother couldn’t play football for Chelsea. How would she provide this presentation of footballing abilities to Chelsea, if she wasn’t “in control” of her son? In a manner of speaking, the mother was saying that she “owned” the son, and hence was actually practicing slavery.

    Chelsea was subverting the intent of laws based on technicalities. That this was allowed (taking advantage of technicalities) is the reason that Chelsea was successful in having the ban overturned. What should have happened is that FIFA/UEFA should have closed the technicality loophole, but I have no idea if that ever happened (and if not, could happen again).

    Is this what life is supposed to be about? Looking for technical loopholes in every contract, so that they can be exploited?

  • Justin Chinedu

    Chelsea and Man city watch out.

  • Gunz

    Double postings
    When posting your comments, if you are “Refreshing” the webpage after to see your posted comment. That could be the reason for the double postings.
    Happened to me many moons ago, think it was a browser issue.
    Hope this helps

  • Gunz

    Click the article links instead of refreshing.

  • Real Madrid is a loser club. They have good players they never play good football as the Arsenal way. The Wenger way!!!! Simione always plays negative football. Transfer ban will put them where they belong they could not buy titles, note they are capable of adjusting without buying as the great man does. They are doomed. In short. Let’s hope so.

    Wenger knows best. We are extremely lucky we witness the greatness by this man !!

    In Wenger We trust..

  • Pete

    Welcome back Mike T!

  • Gord

    OT: Corruption News

    Breaking – Valcke, the Bladder and Kattner under investigation by Switzerland for the issuing of bogus bonuses.–bogus-fifa-bonuses-/42433720

    Other sources of the story abound.

    Heard off in the distance, “I’m clean, I’m clean”.

  • Menace

    “The EU really doesn’t like Fifa and Uefa trying to tell elected representatives how to make laws.”

    The EU does not have elected representatives making Laws. The EU Laws are made by appointed individuals. The EU does not have democracy apart from the Member countries elected representatives. It all stops there & then becomes corrupt. There are no published accounts. There is a huge amount of discrimination. There is probably more corruption in the EU then in FIFA & UEFA.

  • Andy Mack

    Gord, I think mike t is saying the contract signed by the mother was with Lens (not Chelsea) but I’m not sure if that contract was signed when he was below the legal age or not. If so then he would have been too young to sign and the mothers signature would have been the only legal signature possible….
    So like you, I don’t know…

  • Mike T

    In England a professional a football contract can be signed when a player reaches the age of 17. In Spain and Italy it’s 18 in France it’s 16.
    Before age 16 in France there is something called a contract aspirant. In effect it’s an agreement that a contract will be offered and signed when the player reaches an age where a contract can be signed. My understanding is that his mother signed this agreement on his behalf.
    No formal playing contract was ever signed so some 10 days after his 17th birthday he signed a professional contract with Chelsea.
    In France these agreements to agree are enforceable but the key point is By age 17 no contract had transpired so CAS ruled that as no contract was in place so neither the player or indeed Chelsea could have broken the contract with Lens. The £113k paid was in effect training compensation.i
    Kakuta had a real opportunity to make it at Chelsea he suffered a horrific double break of his ankle which probably didn’t help but he just didn’t develop as expected .

  • Omo r'Arsenal

    In the United Kingdom, Chelsea FC is the obvious number one suspect. The second suspect could be any of Manchester City, Arsenal or some ‘big’ club in the lower divisions whose transfer policies are inclined towards talented young players.

    But a case can be made for clubs in England as well. As most of the present young players signed by English clubs so far, arrived just before Brexit.

    Therefore, it behoves on all English clubs who are versed in bringing in talented young players from across national borders to ‘watch it’ henceforth.

    In my opinion, Arsenal has quite been decent with its youth programme when compared with muted talks of what Italian clubs have continually meted out to hapless young Africa players desiring to go to Europe to ply their trade. It maybe, that it is just me being blinded by sentiments coupled with unconfirmed reports that many young aspiring Africa players and indeed several Africa emigrants use Libya as conduit to Europe…Italy of course is their first point of call . But what do we know for sure?

    Oh the corruption in football!

  • Rantetta

    Ah, Mike T is back.

    Last time I noticed you, Mike T, you’d attempted to downplay/dismiss an article about the consequences of the whole Souleymane/Paris Metro/Chelsea’s racist thugs story. Remember?

    Here’s the thing: Seeing how you attempted to justify the actions of your horrible co-fans, who were convicted, what should I think about your posts above?

    Have you, Mike T, learned how Souleymane is doing? Did he get his job back? Have his neighbour’s stopped ridiculing him? How is his family?
    (Like you give a shit).

  • Jambug


    Although Mike T is a courteous poster alas he seems to of taken to disagreeing with every point made on here no matter how sound the post.

    Some of his arguments are ridiculous.

    As I have just said on another thread, if I suggested grass was green he’d argue about it.

    On that thread he has just tried to argue that a net loss of £400 Million is not actually a loss at all.

    I know, don’t ask.

  • Rantetta

    Jambug, thank you.
    I haven’t kept up with all of UA’s articles for a while now. Just – impossibly busy, you know. So I’ve missed Mike T’s contributions, and didn’t realise he’d further sullied these pages.

    I thank you for remaining vigilant. To be pedantic, I’d say he’s not a courteous poster, rather, ‘his writing style is fine, and the content is ****!’

    I really do wonder how Souleymane is doing. I can’t imagine he has fully recovered from the trauma caused by those Chelski fans, and since that incident there has been lots of tragic stuff happening in Paris. None of which would’ve endeared ‘yer average French Joe’ to feel any differently (or even to recall) what happened to Souleymane on that evening, I think.
    (Men with rifles tell women to get their clothes off cos they’re on a beach).
    (Maybe they’re Chelski fans too?)

  • Rantetta

    Being pedantic, I should’ve written *(As though you give a ****)!* – in my 5:09 post.

  • Mike T


    The article you refer to was published in July 2015 . I made one posting which I copy below. I am not quite sure how you can take from that anything else other than I had written. No justification just let law run its course first.

    Mike T
    July 15, 2015 at 9:39 am
    There is no place for this sort of incident in football or indeed anywhere. Those who are guilty of such behaviour desereve the harshest of punishment full stop

    The trouble with this article is that it jumps to a conclusion too quickly not that this incident happened because there is no doubt about that but you can’t convict or in this case issue banning orders by association alone. When the court comes to their decision, based on evidence then we will be able to make comment regarding the individuals

    There have already been two hearings on this matter the case will be heard over two days.

    The irony is that following touting incidents in Maribor last season Chelsea have introduced a strict procedure for matches played abroad

    The process is that your match day ticket will be issued in the city/town where the match is to be played and will only be handed over on production of the receipt and the ticket holders passport.

    As an aside there were 2273 banning orders issued in the last reported year (2013/14)
    In total 67 Arseanl supporters were arrested, 56 Chelsea,112 Man Utd and 71 Man City
    In Respect of CL games Arsenalhad one arrest from 5 games, Chelsea1 from 7,City 5 from 8 & Utd 8 from 5

  • Mike T


    II suggest you read my comment for all I was doing in my previous posting is explaining how player trading is treated in accounts . Indeed it was you who was outing Swiss Rambler for he reads accounts and comments on the figures .
    By the way the grass in my garden is parched and is brown in places!

  • Rantetta

    Mike ‘As though he gives a ****’ T

    You’d make an excellent journo/plundit, indeed, you may already be one.
    This’d be due to your lack of context re: Chelsea …. still resisting all punishment.

    For context you could’ve published the article. Don’t worry, I will.

    Read: Man racially attacked continues to suffer. Neighbourhood jeer at me. I’m afraid to go out.
    Chelsea: If.. evidence.. banning orders for life. Only one man admitted his guilt.

    The context you chose ignored the racist actions and their consequences.
    “There is no place for this sort of incident”. (That told ’em, innit doe).
    You ignored the status of the highest profiled defendant!
    Your context was, “X” clubs had fans arrested/article jumps to conclusions/ Chelsea FC have a marvellous ticketing system for matches played abroad.

    Your15th July post was merely a justification of your co-fans racist behaviour. (Full stop):

    Chelsea supporters involved in Paris Métro incident still resisting all punishment
    By Tony Attwood

    The activity of a group of Chelsea supporters who were in Paris in February this year for the PSG v Chelsea game, and who, on the Métro in Paris, stopped a black man from getting onto a train, were horrific. Almost as horrific is the fact that from what I understand very little has happened to them. I think they have been banned by Chelsea, which obviously is the most the club could do since they have no further legal powers, but they have faced no charges in France and it is only today that today they are in court facing charges in England.

    Perhaps even more alarming is the fact that they are fighting the banning orders, and fines that could be the outcome if they are found guilty today. These orders would stop them going to football matches for five years and stop them travelling abroad when there are international games on – or (and I am presuming this because I haven’t seen it in the reports) when Chelsea are playing overseas.

    If, as I had suggested to me when I was looking up this story, there is no mention of stopping them travelling overseas when Chelsea play overseas, that is problematic, although Chelsea might argue that because tickets can only be obtained from them, and passport numbers have to be given when applying for tickets, they will be able to stop this. I am not sure that such systems are very robust.

    This case, in Stratford magistrates court, is in many ways an open and shut case, because of the video of the event, which took place five months ago. However because four of the five have said they will fight the case, the case has of course to be heard. I am not at all sure though why such cases have to take this long.

    One of the men being charged is Richard Barklie, who is described as a “director of a human rights organisation and former police officer, from Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland”. Of the others I have no details as to their jobs or background.

    The man who was racially attacked has said that he has continued to suffer as a result of the attack and the fact that his picture was on TV thereafter. He has made a statement about the affair…

    “There are French Chelsea supporters in my neighbourhood who jeer at me. I’m afraid to go out. The people were identified, we know who they are, they know who they are and they know what they did. But they’re walking free, while I feel like I’m in a kind of prison. I just want a trial, I want justice to be done. What happened was serious – it wasn’t a minor issue – and if justice isn’t done, then what message does that send?”

    It may be that the French trial is awaiting the outcome of the English trial. There was a French police investigation in February but now nothing more can happen until a French judge issues an international arrest warrant for the suspects to be extradited for trial. If that doesn’t happen, then it would appear that France is sending out a very negative message about its view on open racism.

    And yet the statutes in France do allow for a three year prison sentence for this sort of crime.

    Where we are now is a long way from the anti-racist commentaries that abounded after the event. The Daily Mirror for example said on 18 February, “Chelsea football fans who pushed a black man off a train in Paris and sang about “being racist” could be jailed for three years.

    “The football world united to condemn the supporters and to call for them to be banned from matches. Appalled bosses at Chelsea FC have joined forces with police in Paris and London trying to identify the culprits.

    “The video footage shows Chelsea fans stopping the man boarding the busy underground train, shoving him violently, then apparently singing: “We’re racist, we’re racist, and that’s the way we like it.”

    “A schoolgirl who was on the train said that up to 60 Chelsea fans were involved, some allegedly making throat-slitting gestures at her.”

    On 18 February the Express ran the story that CHELSEA fans have been accused of chanting anti-Semitic songs in Paris….

    On 19 February the Mail stated that Anyone convicted of hurling racist abuse at a black man as he tried to board a Paris Metro train could face jail, French prosecutors said…

    On 20 February the Daily Telegraph ran the story that French prosecutors have identified seven Chelsea supporters… but what happened to either the sixty or the seven we don’t know – and the number quickly came down to five. On the same day Chelsea FC posted on their web site the message that

    Chelsea Football Club has suspended a further two people from Stamford Bridge as a result of ongoing investigations into the incident on the Paris Metro on Tuesday evening. This makes a total of five to date.

    If it is deemed there is sufficient evidence of their involvement in the incident, the club will issue banning orders for life.

    We are grateful to the many Chelsea supporters and others who have provided information and we request any further details are sent to

    And now, here we are with four men in a magistrates court seemingly pleading not guilty to a charge related to an event clearly captured on film, and just one man having admitted his guilt.

    Of course I don’t want action against anyone no matter how much evidence there is, against them without a proper trial. But equally it is desperate that the issue that raised so much furore at the time seems to have vanished as an issue in France, unless, as I say, they are simply waiting for the outcome of today’s trial. We shall see in coming days.

  • Mike T

    I am no journalist, far from it, but at least I try and read what has been written as opposed to trying to join up dots which seems to me what you are trying to do.
    First you talk about Chelsea resisting all punishment, Tony is 100% correct in the article when he says that the Club as such can do little and banning people for life is all they can do . What else are Chelsea supposed to do?
    Next you talk about me ignoring the highest profile defendant. Yes I did in truth for I don’t give a toss who he is or what he did his actions were the same as the others so from my point of view he suffered the same outcome and based on the evidence rightly so
    As for me jumping to the ticketing policy of Chelsea clearly you either have not read the third paragraph of Tony’s article or failed to understand it and indeed my comment .
    I am not quite sure why you are clearly trying to tag me as a racist at worse or justifying those that are for that couldn’t be further from the truth .