Lens back Chelsea punishment

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Lens president Gervais Martel insists FIFA's decision to ban Chelsea from signing new players for 18 months is fair.

The Blues were found guilty by football's governing body for inducing former Lens winger Gael Kakuta to breach his contract with the French club so he could complete a switch to Stamford Bridge. The Frenchman was 15 when Chelsea began to take an interest in the player in 2007 and Lens immediately complained to FIFA.

"We expected this kind of decision," said Martel. "The player was under contract with us, and they came and stole him away from us."

Chelsea have announced that they will appeal against the ruling that currently means they will be unable to sign any new players in the next two transfer windows. They were also ordered to pay £115,000 in compensation to Lens while Kakuta must hand his former club £680,000 with the Blues jointly liable for the payment.

"Chelsea didn't follow the rules," added Martel. "They contacted the player when he wasn't even 16 yet, and while he had been contracted to our training group from the age of eight.

"The financial sanction isn't over the top given the nature of the infringement, but it's really quite significant when it comes to not being able to recruit players.

"It's an important message given that protecting up and coming youth players who are contracted to clubs is an issue being followed closely by (Uefa president) Michel Platini."

The Blues were astonished by the ruling, both in terms of the ban and the financial punishment, and in a brief statement said they would be launching "the strongest appeal possible".

A statement from the club read: "Chelsea will mount the strongest appeal possible following the decision of FIFA's Dispute Resolution Chamber over Gael Kakuta.

"The sanctions are without precedent to this level and totally disproportionate to the alleged offence and the financial penalty imposed. We cannot comment further until we receive the full written rationale for this extraordinarily arbitrary decision."

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