By Tony Attwood
There is a simple point at the heart of the scandals and allegations so far and that is that Man City and PSG, according to the released documents, have broken Uefa rules and threatened to elminiate Uefa from the landscape unless Uefa is complicit in covering up the affair.
And while we are all still digesting all that, would you believe it, up pops another one.
We have long known about the dubious undertakings in under 21 football which has led to the banning order on Liverpool and Manchester City from doing transfers at that level.
Now we have two wonderful headlines next to each other in the Guardian today
Next to which is the story “Chelsea lead chase for American youngster Pulisic.”
But it is all right because although Pulisic is called a “youngster” he is actually 20, and Fifa is concerned about under 18s.
This new revelation (and I do hope you are keeping up with all this) comes from Mediapart and this time the investigating office will be Fifa, under the guidance of… oh dear… the man who gave into Manchester City and PSG when he was he of Uefa. So no probs Chelsea, with Infantino you can do what you like if you have enough money.
The actual punishment if Chelsea were to be found guilty and Fifa stuck by its own rules would a transfer ban up to four transfer windows. Two years without transfers at Chelsea. Which would probably be rather annoying for them if Manchester City gets off any Uefa investigation.
Who the other four clubs from England are who are being investigated in the youth transfer story has not yet been revealed, but one of them is said to be Mancheseter City although they have denied this. No date has been given for the bringing of the charges, and why Chelsea has been named but the others have not, is not clear.
But there is a further twist, for while both the Telegraph and Guardian agree this morning that this is all happening, the Telegraph has an extra comment saying, “Sources close to the Fifa investigation” have said that. “This is a massive investigation that will implicate a number of clubs. It will touch most of the the big clubs around Europe and in the Premier League.”
So another case of “everyone does it, they wouldn’t dare touch us” until one day Uefa wakes up.
Mediapart also make mention of Arsenal, Manchester City, Manchester United and Juventus, but it is not thought every club caught up in this matter is actually under investigation.
The issue at the heart of the transfers is the one that we have covered so often before: players under 18 cannot be transferred except within the EU and the EEA (where the age is 16) unless the parents have emigrated to the receiving country for reasons unconnected with football, or if both the player and purchasing club are within 50km of the national border separating the two countries.
This was the crime that Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid were found guilty of in the past.
The who case strarted with Bertrand Traore who wsa pictured playing in a match for Chelsea against Arsenal when he was only 16. He came from Burkina Faso, and Chelsea said that they merely had an option on him, had declared it to the FA, and so got clearance. Those of us who follow the arcane world of football rules have had this one on the agenda for several years, and indeed Untold has mentioned it before, but I really can’t find out what has kept the follow up enquiry quiet until now.
One thing that is certain is that when the UK leaves the EU the exemption from the rule allowing 16 year olds to be signed from within the EU will drop off the lawbook of course, and so there might be a rush to bring in such players now.