FIFA yesterday banned Spanish giants Barcelona from buying or selling players for the next two transfer windows for “serious” breaches of rules on under-age players.
FIFA’s Disciplinary Committee found Barcelona and the Spanish Football Association guilty of making or allowing illegal deals.
As well as the transfer ban, which will effectively last one year, FIFA fined Barcelona 450,000 Swiss francs (US$509,000).
Barcelona were given 90 days to regularize the situation of all 10 minor players concerned.
The ban is a new blow to the image of Europe’s most successful club of this century following alleged tax evasion in its signing of star Brazilian Neymar.
FIFA fined the Spanish federation 500,000 Swiss francs for their role in the under-age player affair and it was given one year to modify its rules concerning international transfers of minors.
“The Disciplinary Committee regarded the infringements as serious and decided to sanction the club with a transfer ban at both national and international level for two complete and consecutive transfer periods,” a FIFA statement said.
The dramatic sanction follows an investigation last year by FIFA.
The world body looked at cases involving players signed by Barcelona between 2009 and last year.
International rules state that a player has to be at least 18 to be transferred, unless the player falls into one of three specific categories. FIFA found the club and the Spanish federation guilty of illegal deals involving “the international transfer and first registration of non-Spanish minors with the club.”
The dates of the Spanish transfer windows covered by yesterday’s punishment are July 1 to Aug. 31 this year and Jan. 1 to Feb. 1 next year.
Barcelona were caught out by FIFA’s Web-based Transfer Matching System which became mandatory for all international transfers of professional male players in October 2010.
FIFA said it took the protection of minors “very seriously” and warned that “young football players are vulnerable to exploitation and abuse in a foreign country without the proper controls.”