August 14 – Don’t mess with FIFA and you might receive less of a punishment for breaking the rules.
That is one interpretation of Manchester City avoiding a Chelsea-style transfer ban after admitting that they breached rules on signing under-age players from overseas.
The two-time Premier League champions, already embroiled in an ongoing bitter financial fair play dispute with UEFA, have instead been fined a token (for them) CHF 370,000 for breaking FIFA regulations on transfers of players aged under 18.
No specifics were given but the club said the breaches involved players who were taken on trial or played in friendly games and that they all occurred before December 2016 as a result of “misinterpretation of the regulations in question”.
Since then, the club said, they have been “fully compliant.”
FIFA bans the international transfer of under-18s unless they meet strict criteria. The rules were brought in to help protect children from exploitation and trafficking.
FIFA said the fact that City had fronted up and “accepted its responsibility” was a factor in its decision to stop short of a ban. But it nevertheless confirmed City had breached article 19 of its regulations.
In February, FIFA slapped Chelsea with a damaging ban on signing players for two transfer windows after finding the club had broken the same kind of regulations – in their case in relation to 29 different players after 92 cases were investigated.
Chelsea disputed the verdict and the ban was upheld by FIFA on appeal. Chelsea then launched another appeal in June to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
As well as Chelsea, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona and Real Madrid have all been sanctioned by FIFA for signing underage overseas players.
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