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Barcelona Soccer Team Is Ordered to Stop Fielding Six Minors

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Feb. 26 (Bloomberg) -- Soccer ruling body FIFA ordered Barcelona to stop fielding six foreign players under the age of 18 because their signings don’t comply with its regulations.

South Korea’s Lee Seung Woo, 15, and Cameroon’s Patrice Sousia, who plays in an under-13 category, are among youth-team players who have stopped competing while Barcelona appeals the decision, a club official said by telephone today.

FIFA didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment. Under FIFA rules, soccer clubs can only field minors from another continent if their parents are living in the same country for reasons not linked to soccer.

The Barcelona official didn’t provide details of the family situation of the six children.

The six remain at Barcelona’s famed “La Masia,” or “Farmhouse,” school, which provides education and full-board along with soccer coaching, the official said. About one-third of the 72 children at the school are from outside Spain. The school developed Argentina’s Lionel Messi among other players that helped Barcelona win three Champions League titles since 2006.

Messi, the four-time world player of the year, moved to Barcelona from Argentina at age 13. Barcelona paid his metal-worker father a salary of $50,000 for a job in the youth team under the arrangement, El Pais newspaper reported in 2009.

To contact the reporters on this story: Alex Duff in Madrid at aduff4@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at at celser@bloomberg.net

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