Chelsea have been handed a transfer ban for the next two transfer windows by FIFA as a result of an investigation concerning the Premier League club's acquisition of up to 29 minor players.
Chelsea and four other unidentified Premier League clubs have been under investigation by FIFA for the alleged violations and faced transfer bans if found guilty.
According to a Daily Mirror report, FIFA said in a statement: "The FIFA Disciplinary Committee has sanctioned the English club Chelsea FC and The Football Association for breaches relating to the international transfer and registration of players under the age of 18.
"Chelsea was found to have breached art. 19 of the Regulations in the case of twenty-nine (29) minor players and to have committed several other infringements relating to registration requirements for players. The club also breached art. 18bis of the Regulations in connection with two agreements it concluded concerning minors and which allowed it to influence other clubs in transfer-related matters.
Chelsea issued a statement “categorically refuting” the findings of FIFA’s Disciplinary Committee.
The club added it respects the “important work” undertaken by FIFA in relation to the protection of minors and had fully cooperated with FIFA throughout its investigation.
Chelsea had initially been charged with breaches of article 19 in respect of 92 players but FIFA found no wrongdoing in the case of 63 of those.
“The club is extremely disappointed that FIFA has not accepted the club’s submissions in relation to the remaining 29 players,” a statement said.
French investigative website Mediapart initially reported in November that FIFA’s Integrity and Compliance unit would seek to impose a two-year transfer ban on the clubs as well as a fine of 600,000 Swiss francs.
Chelsea are not the only party to have drawn the ire of FIFA, with the Football Association also being fined 510,000 Swiss francs for their part in the flagrant violation of the transfer rules.
The FA responded by writing in their own statement: "The FA notes the decision of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee published today. The FA has cooperated fully with FIFA’s investigations, although we have raised some concerns with FIFA regarding its disciplinary processes.
FIFA’s rules prohibit international transfers of players under the age of 18 unless their parents have emigrated for reasons unconnected to football or both player and club are based within 50 km of a national border.
Spanish clubs Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid have fallen foul of the rules in the past, with all three clubs serving transfer bans for violations. FIFA opened their investigation into the English clubs in September last year.
British media, including the Daily Telegraph, the Guardian and the Times, reported that Chelsea broke transfer rules governing players under the age of 18 when they signed Burkina Faso forward Bertrand Traore in 2013.
The reports added that Chelsea were also under investigation for signing 14 U-18 players since the signing of Traore.
The ban does not prevent the club from releasing players and will not apply to the women's and futsal teams.
With inputs from Reuters.
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Updated Date: Feb 22, 2019 19:12:22 IST