Chelsea are facing the prospect of a transfer embargo after their controversial youth recruitment policy came under scrutiny, particularly with regards to a deal for Bertrand Traore, reports the Evening Standard.
The Burkino Faso international officially joined Chelsea on 1 January 2014 but was photographed featuring for the club's under-18 side in a fixture against Arsenal in 2011. At that time, Traore was only 16-years-old and, if deemed a competitive fixture, it would be in breach of Fifa regulations.
Fifa rules prohibit international transfers of players under the age of 18 and, in recent years, it has been enforced with formidable consequences – Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid have all been handed transfer embargoes for breaching them.
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Now, there is a chance that Chelsea are facing the same fate. If found guilty of completing the transfer of Traore before he turned 18, they are likely to face some form of punishment, the worst being a transfer embargo.
Chelsea had an "option agreement" with Traore's club Auxerre at the time, which supposedly made him eligible to play in trial games before officially joining the Blues. The dispute is whether or not this game against the Gunners was competitive or not.
Confidence is high
However, the Guardian report that Stamford Bridge officials are not wholly concerned by the situation. Both Chelsea and Arsenal have agreed that the fixture was "non-competitive", which, in itself, should be enough to confirm their innocence.
“Bertrand Traore was registered by Chelsea in January 2014 in compliance with FA and Premier League Rules,” said a Chelsea spokesman in that report. “Prior to that date, he was party to an option agreement which enabled the club to acquire his registration in January 2014. The option agreement was registered with, and approved by, both the FA and the Premier League.”
Fifa themselves are yet to confirm whether or not they are investigating the transfer and, even if they do hand out a transfer ban, Chelsea will likely take their appeal all the way to the top. They did the same with regards to Gael Kakuta, overturning an embargo after appealing to the Arbitration for Sport.