By Andrew Warshaw
March 8 – Chelsea’s row with FIFA over being slapped with a two-window transfer ban after being found guilty of illegally signing no fewer than 29 under-age foreign players has taken a dramatic twist with the club’s request to have the ban frozen whilst they appeal unexpectedly turned down.
The ruling to refuse a delay whilst Chelsea challenge the punishment has been made by FIFA’s appeals committee, with the club now likely to ask the Court of Arbitration for Sport to intervene and grant an interim postponement that would allow them, crucially, to sign players in the summer.
Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid were all allowed to sign players during their respective appeals against similar bans but FIFA insists every case is taken on its merits and while it was presumed that Chelsea would be afforded similar provisional measures, they have been told otherwise.
Interestingly, the FIFA appeal panel chairman, Thomas Bodstrom of Sweden, joined FIFA after the Spanish cases were decided.
As things stand, Chelsea, who deny any wrongdoing, will not be able to register new players until January 2020, in one way heaping pressure on the cash-rich club to remain competitive but in another forcing them to either give their home-grown talents an extended chance or recall some of their 40-plus loaned players, or both.
Chelsea said they were “astonished” at Fifa’s decision. “So far as the club is aware, in all previous cases where a registration ban has been imposed by Fifa, a decision has also been made to suspend the sanction until the appeal process has been completed,” a statement said.
“In this case, Chelsea considers that it is being treated inconsistently in comparison with other European clubs.”
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