By Andrew Warshaw
June 1 – Atletico Madrid have reacted furiously after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) threw out their last-ditch appeal against a transfer ban imposed by FIFA for signing non-Spanish players under the age of 18, saying the verdict will cause “irreparable damage”.
The La Liga club said in a statement that CAS had reduced the January 2016 FIFA-imposed fine of CHF 900,000 to CHF 550,000 but had upheld the two-window transfer ban, prohibiting them from registering any players who might be bought this summer.
Real Madrid were also banned from signing players for two transfer windows at the same time and given a smaller fine of CHF 360,000, although the length of their ban was reduced last December to one window.
“We believe the decision to maintain the prohibition of registering players in the summer of 2017 shows preferential and discriminatory treatment to our club as recently in a similar case the sanction was partially lifted,” an Atletico statement said.
“This ruling is unfair and causes an irreparable damage to our club… This shows a lack of respect for our institution.
“We want to reiterate that we have been penalised despite strictly complying with Spanish legislation, as we have always processed all our licenses with Madrid’s Football Federation, as the Sports Law indicates.”
Atletico finished third in La Liga last month and have qualified again for the Champions League.
One immediate question must be whether the CAS ruling will affect the future of star striker Antoine Griezmann, subject of increasing speculation linking him with a move to Manchester United for up to €100 million. Reports have suggested Atletico were lining up highly-rated Lyon forward Alexandre Lacazette as a replacement for Griezmann.
Explaining its verdict, CAS said its three-judge tribunal decided that Atletico’s case was different to Real’s and that they must serve the ban in full – as Barcelona did a couple of years ago when found guilty of similar breaches of transfer rules.
CAS said its panel “found that not all of the alleged violations of the FIFA regulations concerning the registration of minor players could be upheld, which justified a reduction of the fine from CHF 900,000 to CHF 550,000 but not of the transfer ban imposed on the club by FIFA.”
FIFA, for their part, welcomed the CAS decision.
“With this decision, FIFA considers that CAS has shown once again clear and strong support for FIFA’s efforts to protect underage players,” said a statement.
“The protection of minors is one of the key pillars of FIFA… one of the objectives of FIFA is to improve the game of football constantly and promote it globally in the light of its unifying, educational, cultural and humanitarian values, particularly through youth and development programmes.
“As a result, FIFA has put in place a clear regulatory framework that enables it to ensure the protection of minors.”
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