FIFA Gives Real Madrid and Atletico One-Year Transfer Ban

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  • Bans follow investigation into signing of foreign minors
  • Barcelona had also received sanction for similar breach

Real Madrid and local rival Atletico Madrid have been banned by FIFA from signing new players for a period of two transfer windows after breaching regulations on contracting underage athletes.

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The ban is a severe blow to both teams and may mean that they spend heavily in the current transfer period that ends in about two weeks. After that they will not be able to sign players until after the 2016-7 season. FIFA also imposed fines on both teams: 900,000 Swiss francs ($897,308) for Atletico, 360,000 Swiss francs for Real. Both teams have been given 90 days to fix contractual situation of "all minor players concerned."
Real, soccer’s richest team which last September announced record revenues of 660 million euros ($720 million), has been at the center of soccer’s most expensive trades in recent years. It’s twice broken the sport’s transfer fee record since 2009 when it signed Cristiano Ronaldo and later Gareth Bale. Atletico has challenged the duopoly of Real and Barcelona by good scouting and partnering with investment funds to buy players it wouldn’t normally be able to afford.

Under FIFA rules, clubs can only hire minors from another continent if their parents are living in the same country for reasons not linked to soccer.

Real said it was “entirely untrue” that it breached the regulations, adding the sanction was “absolutely unacceptable”. Atletico also complained about the decision and suggested it would appeal.

“Our club is not in agreement with the sanction from international football’s governing body and will study all the documentation we’ve received to present an appeal against the sanction,” said an Atletico statement.

The ban on the two clubs follows one delivered to Barcelona in 2014 for signing underage foreign talent, including from South Korea and Cameroon. The Spanish and European champion has just been cleared to start registering players again. Real said in January 2015 that it submitted information to the soccer governing body related to 51 youth-team players. Atletico also sent details of its arrangements to FIFA.
“The two clubs were found to have violated several provisions concerning the international transfer and first registration of minor players as well as other relevant provisions with regard to the registration and participation of certain players in competitions,” FIFA said in its statement, providing no other details.
Atletico, which is partly owned by Beijing-based Dalian Wanda Group Co., has received Chinese children at its academy, and according to a report published by AS newspaper last year the team had the most non-Spanish players in its youth academy. Real denied a report published by the same newspaper in May that it had partnered with a Chinese company to bring 25 Chinese youth players under the of 14 to live and train in Spain.