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Barcelona Can Sign Players as FIFA Lifts Ban Until Panel Rules

April 23 (Bloomberg) -- FIFA suspended its ban on FC Barcelona signing new players in the forthcoming offseason as soccer’s ruling body considers an appeal by the Spanish champion.

Zurich-based FIFA lifted the ban because of the complexity of the case, which is unlikely to be resolved before the start of the trading window on July 1, the ruling body said in an e-mailed statement.

The decision by FIFA Appeal Committee Chairman Larry Mussenden to suspend the ban “assures that proper and adequate appeal proceedings will take place and, at the same time, that all rights of the club will be respected,” the ruling body said in the statement.

On April 2, Barcelona was banned from trading in the offseason and next January after breaking FIFA regulations by training foreign players younger than 18 at its La Masia, or Farmhouse, academy.

The team says the school, which trained four-time world player of the year Lionel Messi, puts “creating rounded people ahead of creating sports people, something which has not been taken into consideration by FIFA.”

Barcelona was eliminated in the Champions League quarterfinals by Atletico Madrid and trails the same team by four points in La Liga with four games left. It lost to Real Madrid in the Spanish Cup final.

It may look to replace goalkeeper Victor Valdes, 32, who said he plans to leave the club after this season, and defender Carles Puyol, 36, who has said he will retire.

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

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at celser@bloomberg.net Peter-Joseph Hegarty

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