Chelsea file official appeal against FIFA’s 1-year transfer ban

No decision on whether to freeze sanction during legal process made yet

Earlier today, it was confirmed that Chelsea Football Club had appealed against the two-window transfer ban imposed on them by FIFA, though no decision has been taken on freezing the sanction during the legal process.

WHAT HAPPENED

Back on 22nd February, FIFA handed the ban to the Premier League side for failing to comply with Article 19 of the transfer regulations in the case of 29 minor players. As a result, FIFA’s disciplinary committee handed a 1-year transfer ban against the Blues, along with the club being fined £460,000. The Football Association (FA) were also been fined £390,000.

As it stands right now, Chelsea would not be allowed to register new players through January 2020, but this does not prevent the release of players and will not apply to their women’s and futsal teams.

As expected, Chelsea did file a formal appeal against the transfer ban but the decision on when the appeal will be heard or whether the sanction would be suspended during the appeal has not been made yet.

WHY IT HAPPENED

Following a Fifa investigation into Chelsea’s signing of foreign under-18 players, world governing body says it found breaches in 29 cases out of 92 investigated, including former striker Bertrand Traoré.

Photo Source: The Times

Burkina Faso international Bertrand Traore – who now plays for Ligue 1 club Lyon – signed his first professional contract at Chelsea in 2013 at the age of 18 but was not registered until January 2014.

It’s claimed that Fifa found evidence that Chelsea had misled them over the dates, while Traore was found to have made 25 appearances for the Blues (under-16, under-18 and first team) despite not being registered by the FA.

Chelsea admitted they paid his mother £155,000, as well as a further £13,000 to the club she chaired – AJE Bobo-Dioulasso – in April 2011 to allow them first refusal over his signature.

That deal, it is alleged, was for four and a half years, despite the limit for under-18s being three years. In addition, it is also claimed Chelsea paid for Traore to attend the £20,000-a-year Whitgift School in Surrey.

Chelsea denies any wrongdoing and said it was cleared by FIFA after scrutiny of 63 more players’ cases, previously saying they “categorically refute the findings of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee”, and would be appealing the ban on registering new players for two transfer windows.

POTENTIAL RAMIFICATIONS

Chelsea will look to the examples of Spanish sides Barcelona, Atlético Madrid and Real Madrid to see what punishment (or none) will be coming their way once their appeal has been heard by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Both Madrid sides received bans (two-windows each) for breaching rules over the signing of minors in early 2016, whilst Barcelona was given a 14-month ban after breaking rules for signing international under-18s in 2014.

Upon appeal, Atletico’s transfer ban was upheld and Real’s ban was halved to just one window. Both Barcelona and Atletico were forced to serve the full, original punishment handed to them but upon appealing, they did delay the start of their respective bans by one window.

This benefitted Barcelona tremendously, allowing the Catalan club to sign the likes of Luis Suárez, Ivan Rakitić, Jérémy Mathieu, Claudio Bravo and Marc-André ter Stegen.

WHY THIS MIGHT END UP BEING A GOOD THING

For Chelsea, this might sound crazy, but the transfer ban might actually be a blessing in disguise. The London based club have a lot of issues at the moment both on and off the pitch.

Poor recent squad investment, lack of genuine youth integration, poor academy utilisation… you can safely say Chelsea need to get their act together. Maybe, the transfer ban has in fact woken the club and realised that they need to get a move on now with solving the majority (if not all) of their issues.

Photo Source: Getty Images

Many expect (and hope) for the following to happen:

• A mass exodus of the ‘deadwood’/those whose contracts are expiring.
• New, young, fresh blood brought into the club so they can adapt to the change of philosophy that is currently happening (the January signing of Christian Pulisic is a good start).
• Players from the ‘loan army’ and academy to finally be integrated into the first-team squad and given a genuine chance.

I could go on but you get an idea as to what is generally needed.

There’s one caveat however still in play… the appeal (as of right now) does not guarantee us having this coming Summer to launch the major overhaul of the squad, which is badly needed. And that’s certainly what Chelsea will be hoping for at the very least.

Whilst FIFA could actually set a precedent here with Chelsea, it’s very unlikely as with the cases of Barcelona and the Madrid sides, they agreed to not enforce the ban during the appeal processes of the respective clubs.

The likelihood is that Chelsea will eventually end up with the ban being imposed. What is needed however is for that ban (halved or thrown out down the line would be great too) to be suspended until after the appeal hearing so that we can do business in the summer, as I genuinely believe this coming summer will be the most decisive window of the Roman Abramovich era to date. Even as important as the day Abramovich bought Chelsea even.

Here’s hoping for luck to be looking on our side.

Terry Sazio

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