Fifa’s war with Manchester City is deepening but much depends on how CAS react.

By Tony Attwood, currently 35 miles from North Korea.  (A first for Untold!)

You may recall that over the years Untold has regularly reported on issues relating to the transfer of youngsters between clubs and the issues surrounding child exploitation.  We also did a lot to cover the technicalities and legalities of the FFP regulations before they became irrelevant through a breakdown in the whole system and a sudden unwillingness of Uefa to tackle the major rule-breakers.

The articles don’t get much in the way of readership – some would argue that is due to my turgid writing style, others might say because there isn’t much of interest there, and of course many have argued that I get all my facts wrong.

And maybe I am barking up the wrong palm tree but given that most blogs and newspapers are not following the story at all, I am back with it once again.

But to reiterate: it was Untold that persisted with the view that Manchester City had broken FFP rules and that the FFP rules were not in breach of European Union regulations on restraint of trade.  And although part of the argument was easy because the EU clearly had ruled that the FFP rules were acceptable due to the singular nature of competition within sport, the other part – how Fifa would interpret the situation, was something we got right.   Guillem Balagué ploughed the same furrow as we did which of course gave me the confidence to keep going when under unremitting onslaughts.

But now we have the latest round following interviews and articles in Jyllands-Posten in Denmark, by two former players at Manchester City, George Davies and Dominic Oduro.

They both allege that they played for the club while under the age of 18, which would be a clear breach of Fifa rules on child trafficking.  And indeed these are obviously further allegations against a club that is already using a fair amount of its massive world wide legal resources to fight Fifa and the Court of Arbitration in Sport.

As I have oft mentioned, Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Atlético Madrid have all been given transfer bans, but Fifa have now proposed that any future bans should be much bigger since the clubs were so easily able to get around those imposed thus far.

Chelsea are also reported to be under investigation, and the Premier League handed down modest penalties to Liverpool and Manchester City over their academy activities.   Of course if there are any more bans there will be more appeals to the CAS.   CAS has so far held up all the appeals but the long delays in CAS hearings that we are now seeing allow the clubs to spend, spend, spend and so overcome the transfer bans.  Hence Fifa is looking at a way of imposing bans that work and are a deterrent.

The question also arises whether the tapping up case of Manchester City vis a vis two schoolboys is one that can be taken into account when considering other cases.  When an individual is hauled before a court, and found guilty, all his/her crimes at all levels heard in all courts are taken into account when sentence is passed.  Bringing that into football would certainly change the way punishments are handed down.

We also know that Manchester City re-signed one of the boys they were found guilty of trafficking, which again brings the current process into disrepute.

Meanwhile Chelsea are being investigated over the arrangements of their dealings with Bertrand Traoré and Domingos Quina.   We await developments on what are now numerous fronts.  Maybe Fifa and CAS are about to get their acts together properly.  That would be a first, but in this business is seems that if they don’t, the clubs do just walk all over Fifa, and do whatever they like, whenever they like.

Recent Posts

The Latest from our history of Henry Norris at the Arsenal

Arsenal’s worst home defeat, but a quick recovery pulls things around. March 1921

23 Replies to “Fifa’s war with Manchester City is deepening but much depends on how CAS react.”

  1. Big flaw in your argument that City have appealed to CAS, in order to delay sanctions from FIFA, is that FIFA ruled in favour of City, ruling they had not broken the rules, when signing Garré. Also, given FIFA ruled in City’s favour, I’m not sure how you can suggest City have no hope of winning. Oops!!!!!

  2. I for one appreciate the effort put in to keeping us informed. Thanks, interesting as ever

  3. I have always believed that Arsenal have had a firmer stance on the moral high ground than most clubs. I’m pretty sure that the Club’s aim is to be unimpeachable even if they could be seen to fall short on rare occasions. Their reaction to the short comings of employees (anything from taking bungs to players being caught smoking) have usually been self imposed and severe.
    It shouldn’t be surprising to see people brought up in that Arsenal tradition taking more interest in the transgressions of others. Maybe we don’t live in a glass house and therefore we should therefore encourage the throwing of stones.
    The fact of the matter is that malpractice that has the potential to adversely impact on the lives of young people for the rest of their lives (and we’ve seen revelations of various natures of late) should be relentlessly exposed. The fact that some clubs that are seen to be among our nearest rivals could be at fault makes some think that we are lending support to investigations for the ‘wrong’ reasons. ‘They would say that wouldn’t they’ is the knee-jerk response.
    What such critics should be asking themselves is why others aren’t throwing the spotlight on such matters? What are they afraid of?
    Keep shining the light Tony. Keep being relentless.

  4. Curlie, it is not at all unknown for me to make mistakes in these matters, but I can only try to unravel the case as I see it. Sometimes I am right sometimes wrong.

  5. Any chance you can clarify what exactly happened with the Benjamin Garre case.

    From what i understood, he holds an Italian passport so was eligible to be signed before he was 18.
    City also checked with FIFA, and they ratified the transfer was legal prior to it going through.

    Velez Sarsfield (Garre’s previous club) then put a complaint into FIFA which was dismissed, and City cleared of any wrong doing with the following statement:-
    “We can confirm that a decision regarding the application made by the Football Association to the sub-committee of the players’ status committee for approval of the international transfer of the player from Velez Sarsfield to Manchester City was passed on August 24, 2016.

    “We can also confirm that having thoroughly analysed the request lodged by Velez Sarsfield, it was considered that there is no element justifying the opening of disciplinary proceedings against Manchester City.”

    From what i then understand is that Velez Sarsfield made a complaint to the CAS about FIFA (on the basis of their decision & ratification of the deal), not City (although they still have representation in the case on the basis of being an affected party). This is why the case is taking so long as it’s not against City, but against FIFA.

    With regard to the other 2 cases mentioned, it will be interesting to see if they actually played in any ‘official’ City academy matches or they were just trial or unofficial games. If it’s the latter then City wouldn’t have been breaking any specific FIFA/UEFA rules, so then it will likely come down to what their actual documentation shows.
    City have had similiar previous investigations (Myles Beerman springs to mind), and have been cleared of any wrongdoing so i wouldn’t get my hopes up if you think this might lead to a lengthy transfer ban.

  6. Man City fan in peace.. it’s an interesting area for debate but I do have a couple of issues…
    1). FFP was supposedly to help lower level clubs stay solvent…however the reality is it was more about keeping the big clubs at the top of the pile..there was no consideration for debt levels in clubs outside of the European Cup competitions..and if you’re not in Europe then you faced no sanctions.
    2) The original club of B Garre were quite happy for FIFA to deal with their case right up until it was thrown smacks of someone looking for a payout.
    3). It’s a bit distasteful of an Arsenal fan to be complaining of mis-use of the youth system when that very club cherry picked it’s way through the talent of African football….and we all know how corrupt that is/was…i suspect it a proper investigation was to take place they would find numerous anomalies and broken rules from your good selves.

  7. So Fifa deem it “child” trafficking to play someone who is 17? Most if not all European armies recruit at 16/17. So according to the EU its ok to go to Syria/Arganistan/Iraq etc and have your legs blown off by and IED but you cant go to England to play a football match. Dont seem fair to me. Having said that some of the tackles city players have received this season probably would do the same damage as an IED.

  8. Interesting, but I am confused.

    Did we not buy TW, CC, and the OX from Southampton before they were 18?

    Wasn’t Martial 17 when manure bought him?

    Can you explain if possible?

  9. Tony/Curlie
    A Ruling on the situation is expected at the end of March.

  10. jigsol

    afaik players can transfer between clubs within Europe (or if they hold a european passport)at the age 16.
    For international transfers they need to be 18.

    This is why so many South American’s now register as Dual nationals so they can move to Spain/Italy earlier in their careers.

  11. If Arsenal ever fall foulof the regulations you write about it will not be a deliberate act of seeking to circumvent the rules.
    It will be due to management incompetence – in line with everything that happens at Arsenal regards the playing staff, strategy and tactics!

  12. The largest seed in the world is coco de mer (a kind of palm). Barking up a palm tree could result in the palm tree releasing one of those seeds, and you might get whacked by a 40 pound seed falling from considerable height.

    It could be worse, you could bark up a jackfruit tree, and get whacked by a 100 pound jackfruit, again falling from considerable height.

    But I suppose the worst case for barking up a tree and getting whacked, are any of the eucalypts that are colloquially named as “widow makers” because they spontaneously drop entire branches.

    But to read the comments, I think a few authors should consider barking up some of the trees mentioned, as an approximation of the “clue bat”.

  13. OT: Support the Ref

    Sky and The (sweet) FA have conducted a “study”, about officiating. The study involved a survey, and from what I read of the conclusions, certain questions that probably should have been asked, were not even approached.

    This study and survey are part of Support the Ref week. I have no problem with supporting an honourable referee, assistant referee or other official. I do have a problem with a couple of things:
    _1. Requiring that _we_ assume they are honourable.
    _2. That nothing is seen to be done, or is done behind the scenes, to ensure they are honourable.
    To be called honourable is something which needs to be _earned_.

    91% of grassroots referees believe lack of respect at elite levels has a trickle down effect. There are lots of circumstances that a grassroots referee acting as a spectator of an elite football can view where the elite official is believed to be acting in an honourable manner and is not being respected. And it is not hard to imagine that this has a large influence on grassroots behavior.

    There however does not appear to be any questions that get into concepts such as:
    _* Do elite referees always act honourably?

    If elite referees do not act honourably (nearly) all the time, then any disrespect they are shown in elite games is at least in part _earned_. But the laws of the game do allow for a referee to _demand_ respect. Hence, it is within the power of referees at the elite level to be shown respect at all times. A question then is, why doesn’t this happen?

    If elite referees were (nearly) always acting honourably, an elite referee would be within their rights to book a player (or substitute or manager) for dissent at the first occurrence. And then if the recipient is guilty of disrespect a second time in that game, to dismiss that person from the field of play. The ejection of players solely on the basis of dissent gets players (and managers) attention. And supposedly, the responsible association will stand behind the referee if the caution and/or dismissal is appealed or protested officially.

    But, if an elite referee is not acting honourably, and this referee starts cautioning or dismissing players for dissent because they are not being respected, appeals will be introducing into evidence the fact the elite referee was _not_ acting honourably.

    It is possible the responsible association may itself not be acting honourably, and hence bury the reports of an official not being honourable.

    As Tony has written, it is possible that there are obligations written into contracts restricting certain kinds of behaviors by certain parties. Such as people reporting news for news organizations (do I have to call them journalists?). But one would think that at some point, all of this dishonour being swept under the carpet has to raise a large enough bump that people consistently trip over it.

    How can one see dishonourable behavior in elite officials? Look at the data that is reported. Do you see that the distribution of fouls issued related to the cautions issued is about the same for all teams? Does the distribution look to be due to a single function?

    What is happening is the “man management” of the game. The elite official recognizes that they cannot caution or dismiss enough players or managers to command the respect the laws of the game allow for, because at some point the paper trail of appeals is going to require action against the elite official.

    The survey found that 76% of grassroots referees believe that criticism of the elite referee by elite managers is a problem.

    I believe that even if grassroots referees never were spectators of elite games, they would have this attitude. The elite referee would still be within their rights to caution or dismiss managers for dissent.

    Apparently 78% of grassroots referees felt that criticism of grassroots referees by parents is a problem. We’ve all seen how little knowledge the pudnits employed by the medja have, to recognize that parents by and large have less knowledge than the pudnits would seem an obvious thing to me. Criticizing someone when you don’t know what you are talking about is an easy thing to happen.

    Next, 66% of grassroots referees disagreed that grassroots referees got enough credit for correct decisions. It’s a common part of human nature, that it is easier to be destructive than constructive. Complimenting someone happens less often than criticizing them. I don’t think referees should need to be complimented for making correct decisions. But why is there no question relating to the _incorrect_ decisions?

    Someone felt career path was of interest, so it was asked if grassroots referees felt they could visualize a pathway which might culminate in their becoming a PGMOL referee. 47% of grassroots referees thought they could see this. Whether this visualization involved thought of grassroots officials needing to become better at ass kissing or not wasn’t mentioned.

    Apparently the most common request for a new rule, would be the introduction of a “sin bin”. The majority of people who proposed “sin bins” thought they should only be used for dissent.

    Some (no mention of numbers or fraction) grassroots had concerns regarding clarity and consistency in applying the laws. There were grassroots referees who felt that players needed to become better educated in the laws of the game.

    The one change that grassroots officials thought was the most important, is that players and managers needed to respect referees more. Another point scoring high, is that referees would like to be seen as positive facilitators of football, not a negative that is ruining the game.


    This was a study. Supposedly someone who has more than 2 brain cells was involved in this. I say supposedly, as we can see something of their ability to think with this quote (from the article).

    According to the FA, there are now 29,248 referees in England, an increase of 1,210 referees from 2016/17 to 2017/18. Female referees account for 3.6 per cent of these, and though male referee numbers are slowly declining, female levels are static.

    The first sentence says that the number of referees has increased.

    The second sentence says that the number of referees is composed of 2 components: male referees and female referees. The number of male referees is slowly decreasing, while the number of female referees is staying the same.

    How do you get an increase in the number of referees, by adding together a decreasing number to a constant number?

  14. OT: Support the Ref

    Not only does this statement shows us something of the quality of the analysis that went into the study, it also demonstrates just how sexist The (sweet) FA is.

    According to the FA, there are now 29,248 referees in England, an increase of 1,210 referees from 2016/17 to 2017/18. Female referees account for 3.6 per cent of these, and though male referee numbers are slowly declining, female levels are static.

    Now there are 29248 referees, an increase of 1210 from the year before. Hence there were 28038 the year before.

    What is 3.6% of 28038? It is about 1009.

    What seems the most likely explanation, is that the number of female referees MORE THAN DOUBLED in one year! That is hardly static! If the number of male referees went down by 100, that would mean that the number of female referees went up by 1310.

  15. OT: Support the Ref

    There is a flipside calculation.

    If we calculate 3.6% of 29248, we get 1053. The (sweet) FA _admitted_ that the number of referees increased by 1210 from last year AND that the number of male referees has been slowly declining in recent years. So that means that last year there were fewer (more negative) than -157 female referees in all of England!

    That isn’t possible. What is possible, is that The (sweet) FA has a negative attitude towards female referees. In other words, it is sexist!

  16. Are Tony guys talking about a nonnconcluded investigation?

    Goes, lol, the timing, it’s a bit like Trumps sacking and rather questinablenavoidant stance on allegations.

    Clutching at straws.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *