Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid has been buying children in breach of FIFA’s Rules on Minor. And it has been going on for years.
It means that the two clubs now are excluded from signing players in two transfer windows and Atletico Madrid have also been hit with a 900,000 Swiss francs fine while Real have been fined 360,00 Swiss francs.
A FIFA statement tells: “The two clubs were found to have violated several provisions concerning the international transfer and first registration of minor players as well as other relevant provisions with regard to the registration and participation of certain players in competitions.”
“Both clubs are therefore to serve a transfer ban that prevents them from registering any players at national and international level for the next two complete and consecutive registration periods for breaching articles 5, 9, 19 and 19bis as well as annexes 2 and 3 of the Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players. The transfer ban, which does not affect the current registration period at all, given that it opened before the decisions were notified, applies to each club as a whole – with the exception of the women’s, futsal and beach soccer teams – and does not prevent the release of players.”
The decisions follow investigations initially conducted by FIFA Transfer Matching System GmbH (FIFA TMS) and subsequently by the FIFA Disciplinary Committee as part of disciplinary proceedings. The investigations concerned minor players who were involved and participated in competitions with the clubs over various periods between 2007 and 2014 (Atlético de Madrid) and between 2005 and 2014 (Real Madrid).
We have values
In Real Madrid the director general, José Angel Sanchez, is in shock: “This club has never collaborated in the uprooting of families of underage players. Neither because the circumstance has arisen in which we have register a foreign player, leaving behind his family, nor has arisen a circumstance in which we have a ploy to bring a family along with a player. In neither of the two cases of dislocation have Real Madrid failed to comply with the regulations. Simply it has not happened”.
“This club has values and a code of ethics and despite the fact that the records go back to 2005, the people responsible during the period have never broken this code. It simply hasn’t happened”.
“I’m not going to comment on the Barcelona case, but our case is totally different. We can only think that this has been a mistake,” he says.
The tip of the iceberg
But Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid, and earlier FC Barcelona, are just the tip of the iceberg. The trade of minors in European elite football has been going on for decades and over the past couple of years it has grown into a significant business – and one that is growing at the same rate as the professional football industry itself. The enormous profits it generates prompt teams to hunt for younger and younger football talents so they can achieve success in an increasingly competitive sport, minimise their costs – and maximise their profits.
The Southern European clubs are often the most aggressive talent scouts. But it is not only the clubs that are looking for the future stars. Over the past decade, a new player has entered the field, with anonymous “investment funds” in tax havens also wanting profit from finding a new Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo or Neymar.
The intensifying global fight for young football talents prompted FIFA to lower the age requirement for international transfer certificates to 10 years of age in March 2015. But it haven’t kept the clubs and the investment funds from buying the children. For example states the union for professional footballers, FIFPro:
“It does not solve any problems. Clubs and capital funds will just look for even younger talent. In the clubs – and in the capital funds – there are people who believe that they can spot a talent, no matter the age,” FIFPro board member Mads Øland says.
Mads Øland predicts that the “war” – will only escalate in the coming years:
“Take the example of FC Barcelona’s purchase of Neymar. They wanted him for years. He ended up being extremely expensive for them, because the investment funds had to have their cut of the profit, and the funds’ cut is several hundred percent. It was the worst scenario imaginable for FC Barcelona,” Øland argues and concludes:
“It will end in disaster at some point…”
Both clubs are expected to appeal FIFA’s decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). However, FC Barcelona, who were hit by a similar sanction, failed with their appeals to CAS. According to Enrique Cerezzo, Atletico Madrid president, the clubs will appeal: “We’re definitely going to appeal against the sanction. We are completely in the right. All 110 pages have to be read.”
SPORT EXECUTIVE HAS BEEN FOLLOWING CHILD LABOUR IN INTERNATIONAL FOOTBALL FOR MORE THAN 3 YEARS.