Chelsea have insisted that they are not guilty of any wrongdoing, after FIFA this week accused them of breaking transfer rules in relation to the signing of foreign youth players.
An initial investigation by the world governing body’s transfer matching system has suggested that the Blues may have broken rules on the signing of 25 players who were under the age of 18 from abroad.
In response to the preliminary findings, a Chelsea spokesman said: “Chelsea FC complies with all FIFA statutes and regulations when recruiting players.”
FIFA have flagged the cases and they are now under further investigation by a disciplinary committee.
FIFA first became aware of Chelsea’s alleged transgressions after the Blues signed Bertrand Traore. The Burkina Faso international signed a professional contract with Chelsea when the transfer window opened on January 1, 2014, when he was 18. However, pictures have emerged which purportedly show the youngster playing in a non-competitive game for the side in 2011 when he was just 16 years old.
FIFA rules prohibit the transfer of players from foreign countries below the age of 18, unless their parents emigrate for a non-footballing reason, or if the player and club are based within 50 km of an international border, or if the transfer is within the EU or European Economic Area (where the minimum age is 16).
Should Chelsea be found guilty, they will likely become the first club from England to have transfer sanctions imposed upon them. Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid have all been found guilty of similar offences in the past and subsequently faced bans from all activity for two transfer windows.
Madrid had their ban halved after launching a successful appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, but their suspension last summer was the reason why former Chelsea striker Diego Costa had to wait until this month to make his debut in his second spell at the club.
Chelsea will surely not want a ban from transfers, especially as their form recently has suggested that the Blues will need to consider making a few big swoops during the summer – particularly in attack.