LAUSANNE (AFP) – The main international sport appeal court on Tuesday backed a one year transfer ban against Barcelona in a major blow to the Spanish football giants.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) “dismissed” a Barcelona appeal against the FIFA ban imposed in April for breaching rules on signing players aged under 18.
Barcelona cannot buy players during the transfer window that opens on January 1 and for the summer transfer period before the 2015-16 season.
They can only open the cheque book again in January 2016.
“FIFA considers that CAS has shown clear and strong support for FIFA’s efforts to protect underage players,” the world ruling body said in a statement.
Barcelona however said they would consider a new appeal to a Swiss federal court. CAS and FIFA are both based in Switzerland.
Barcelona were also fined US$455,000. The Spanish federation was also reprimanded by FIFA and fined.
“The panel found in particular that FC Barcelona had breached the rules regarding the protection of minors and the registration of minors attending football academies,” said the statement.
Barcelona said they “totally disagree” with the sanction which they called “disproportionate” and “excessive”.
The club acknowledged making “errors” but said these were caused by “conflict between FIFA regulations and Spanish legislation.”
Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu called for a change in the FIFA rules as the club confirmed they would study the full CAS ruling and could make an appeal to a Swiss federal court.
“FIFA and its president should represent an organisation that protects the world of football and with these decisions they are moving away from their goal,” Bartomeu told Barca TV. “The priority has been given to a poorly written rule, going beyond the spirit that inspired this rule,” he complained.
“I hope FIFA will have the good sense to rewrite this rule.”
FIFA ordered the ban in April after an investigation into several under-18 players who were registered and played for Barcelona between 2009 and 2013. It found that Barcelona and the Spanish federation were guilty of a “serious” infringement of rules for 10 players.
Barcelona made a first appeal to FIFA and the sanction was suspended enabling them to make major signings such as Luis Suarez from Liverpool for 95 million euros.