FIFA have today announced that both Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid have been banned from registering new players for the next two transfer windows.
Both La Liga clubs have been found guilty of breaking rules regarding the recruitment of players under the age of 18; the very same offence that led to Barcelona's transfer embargo, which ended on January 1.
To add insult to injury, Atletico have been fined £622,000 while Real were handed a £249,000 penalty. The embargo will not come into place until the summer, meaning both clubs will be able to register new players in the current transfer window.
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That could, quite possibly, spark a ferocious rush to recruit new players with Real Madrid recently linked with mega-money moves for both Paul Pogba and Eden Hazard while Manchester United's David de Gea remains a long-term target.
Both clubs retain the right to appeal the decision and are likely to do so in the coming days.
Although this news is still fresh of the press, there is already plenty of reaction on social media. Here, we filter through the mess to bring you the best tweets so far.
The FIFA statement in full
The Fifa Disciplinary Committee has sanctioned Spanish clubs Atlético de Madrid and Real Madrid for breaches relating to the international transfer and registration of players under the age of 18.
The two clubs were found to have violated several provisions concerning the international transfer and first registration of minor players as well as other relevant provisions with regard to the registration and participation of certain players in competitions.
Both clubs are to serve a transfer ban that prevents them from registering any players at national and international level for the next two complete and consecutive registration periods for breaching articles 5, 9, 19 and 19bis as well as annexes 2 and 3 of the Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players (the “Regulations”). The transfer ban, which does not affect the current registration period at all, given that it opened before the decisions were notified, applies to each club as a whole – with the exception of the women’s, futsal and beach soccer teams – and does not prevent the release of players.
Additionally, Atlético de Madrid and Real Madrid have been fined CHF 900,000 and CHF 360,000 respectively, while both clubs have been issued with a reprimand and given 90 days in which to regularise the situation of all minor players concerned.
The decisions, which were notified to the parties concerned today, were made based on the specific elements of each case. They follow investigations initially conducted by Fifa Transfer Matching System GmbH (FifaTMS) and subsequently by the Fifa Disciplinary Committee as part of disciplinary proceedings. The investigations concerned minor players who were involved and participated in competitions with the clubs over various periods between 2007 and 2014 (Atlético de Madrid) and between 2005 and 2014 (Real Madrid).
Fifa works hard to protect the rights of players under the age of 18 – whether male or female, amateur or professional. This is done through the enforcement of regulations prohibiting the international transfer of minors, or the first registration of minors in a country other than their own, except in specific circumstances (cf. art. 19 of the Regulations) that must be approved by the sub-committee appointed by the Players’ Status Committee.
As such, the provisions relating to the protection of minors need to be strictly applied. This has been confirmed on various occasions by the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Opening up the door to exceptions beyond those carefully drafted and included in the Regulations would unavoidably lead to cases of circumvention of the rationale for these provisions.
The web-based Transfer Matching System (TMS) provides a crucial platform to monitor the international transfer market, to ensure compliance with the rules, and to promote transparency and best practice.