Transfer bans in Football

Chelsea have appealed their two-window transfer ban imposed by Fifa. However, they are not the first club to get into trouble for signing under-18 players.

In 2014, Barcelona were handed a 14 month transfer ban by Fifa following a breach of rules relating to minors.

The club were found to have been illegally signing foreign players under the age of 18. However, rather than being immediately banned from signing players, the punishment was pushed back and the club signed a number of players.

Barcelona won the treble in 2015 (Photo: Wikimedia)

Luis Suarez, Ivan Rakitic, Jeremy Mathieu, Claudio Bravo and Marc-Andre ter Stegen all joined the club in the summer of 2014. About to be banned for over a year, the club invested heavily in order to compete over this period. However Suarez, serving a four month ban for biting Giorgio Chiellini, was unavailable for the start of the season.

The 2014/15 season ended with Barcelona as treble winners, Luis Enrique leading the side to the Copa del Rey, La Liga and Champions League in his debut season as manager.

In 2016, Real Madrid and rivals Atletico Madrid were handed two window transfer bans for the same breach of rules. Both clubs appealed and Real Madrid’s ban was halved while Atletico’s was upheld. In a club statement, Atletico said “This ruling is unfair and causes an irreparable damage to our club”.

Griezmann chose to remain with Atletico to help the club (Photo: Wikimedia)

Antoine Griezmann, reportedly set to join Manchester United, changed his mind and stayed with the club following the ban. The 16/17 season ended with Atletico in 3rd place in La Liga, and semi-finalists in both the Champions League and Copa del Rey. The club then signed players such as Chelsea’s Diego Costa, who was not eligible to play until January 2018.

Like Barcelona, Real Madrid ended the 16/17 season as treble winners. Zinedine Zidane’s side won the Champions League, La Liga and the UEFA Super Cup after being handed a lengthy ban.

For the biggest clubs, transfer bans are more of an inconvenience than a punishment and in the case of Barcelona, don’t mean anything when they can prepare for it.