Chelsea transfer ban: Why FIFA sanctioned Blues & what is the appeal process?

Chelsea have been slapped with a two-window transfer ban and a fine by FIFA, meaning they will now have to make alternative plans when it comes to their immediate recruitment approach.

The game’s world governing body announced the sanction, which relates to breaches concerning the transfer of players who are under 18, on Friday and the Premier League club are now be formulating their response.

The Stamford Bridge outfit are expected to exhaust every avenue that is available to them as they seek to challenge the decision and preserve their reputation.

So why have the sanctions been imposed and what can they do about it? Goal takes a look at how it all works.

Whyhave Chelsea been hit with a transfer ban?

According to FIFA, the ban is being imposed on Chelsea because the governing body found the club to be in breach of regulations relating to the international transfer and registration of players under the age of 18.

Specifically, the Blues were found to have breached article 19 of the Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players in the case of 29 minors.

The club was also found to have breached article 18bis (which concerns third-party influence on clubs) in connection with two agreements that were reached concerning minors.

It is not clear which players the breaches in question are related to.

Maurizio Sarri Chelsea 2019

As well as a ban, FIFA has issued a fine of 600,000 Swiss Francs (£460k/$600k) and the Blues have been given a period of 90 days to “regularise the situation of the minor players concerned”.

Furthermore, not only have Chelsea been sanctioned by FIFA, so too have the Football Association (FA).

FIFA fined the English governing body 510,000 Swiss Francs (£390k/$510k) for breaches and imposed a six-month period in which to “address the situation”.

Can Chelsea appeal the transfer ban?

Chelsea Eden Hazard

Yes, Chelsea can contest the decision reached by FIFA by bringing their case before the FIFA Appeal Committee.

Indeed, the club have indicated that they will be appealing the findings of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee.

“Chelsea FC categorically refutes the findings of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee and will therefore be appealing the decision,” an official statement said.

“The club wishes to emphasise that it respects the important work undertaken by FIFA in relation to the protection of minors and has fully cooperated with FIFA throughout its investigation.

“Initially, Chelsea FC was charged under Articles 19.1 and 19.3 in relation to 92 players.

“We welcome the fact that FIFA has accepted that there was no breach in relation to 63 of these players, but the club is extremely disappointed that FIFA has not accepted the club’s submissions in relation to the remaining 29 players.

“Chelsea FC acted in accordance with the relevant regulations and will shortly be submitting its appeal to FIFA.”

While the decision of the FIFA Appeal Committee is “final and binding”, should Chelsea not be satisfied with the outcome they can make a further appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

How long does an appeal take?

The duration of the appeal process varies depending on the case, but it can take up to two or three years, sometimes longer.

As you might expect, such things require a lot of paperwork and legal representations and there is a natural processing period for each step.

The club must first lodge their appeal with the FIFA Appeal Committee and, based on previous cases, it can take roughly three to four months for a decision.

After that, if a club is not satisfied with the decision of the FIFA Appeal Committee, a case can be made to bring the issue before the CAS in Switzerland.

Again, the duration of the CAS appeal process also varies, depending on the court’s schedule among other things, but it will generally take a number of months.

How long will the Chelsea transfer ban last?

Maurizio Sarri Chelsea 2019

As mentioned, the transfer ban that has been imposed on Chelsea is scheduled to last for the next two consecutive registration windows.

The windows in question are the upcoming 2019 summer window and the 2020 winter window. That means they won’t be able to complete transfer deals until the summer of 2020 at the earliest.

However, in the event of an appeal process being set in motion, the ban can be temporarily suspended until the outcome of the final appeal is reached.

In effect, what that means is that clubs can buy themselves some time in which to create a contingency plan by signing players to minimise the effect of a ban.

For example, Barcelona were granted a temporary suspension of their transfer ban in 2014, which allowed them to recruit the likes of Luis Suarez, Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Thomas Vermaelen.

As mentioned, Chelsea have indicated that they will be appealing the decision of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee, so the looming ban may yet be delayed.

What other clubs have had transfer bans?

Chelseaare by no means alone when it comes to this sort of breach and some of the world’s biggest clubs have previously been implicated.

Liga giants Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid were all sanctioned by FIFA for similar regulation breaches, with the governing body imposing similar two-window bans.

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However, while Chelsea’s breaches concern the cases of 29 minors, the cases of the Spanish clubs involved many more players. In the case of Barcelona, 31 minors were investigated and Real Madrid’s case saw the investigation of 70 minors. However, Atletico’s breaches involved more than double the Clasico pair combined, with 221 investigations.

Each of the cases involving the Spanish clubs took a number of years to be completed. From start to finish, Barcelona’s case concluded in two years, Atletico’s lasted just over three years and Real’s was approaching four years.

In each of the aforementioned cases, the FIFA-imposed transfer bans were upheld, though the transfer ban was reduced to just one window in the case of Real.


What does Chelsea’s transfer ban mean for Sarri, Hazard, Higuain and Hudson-Odoi?

FIFA have announced that Chelsea have been banned from registering players for two transfer windows after being found to have breached rules regarding the signing of players aged under 18.

The club have also been fined £400,000 ($520,000) for their alleged misdemeanours, but it is the transfer ban which could obviously prove far costlier.

Chelsea have already confirmed that they will appeal but Friday’s news has undeniably added to the sense of doom and gloom presently surrounding Stamford Bridge.

Blues boss Maurizio Sarri is a man under pressure, with his side having suffered a number of disappointing results in recent weeks, most notably a humiliating 6-0 loss at Manchester City in the Premier League, and a tame 2-0 FA Cup last-16 loss at home to Manchester United.

So, what does the transfer ban mean for the Italian coach, and everyone else connected with the club?


Maurizio Sarri Manchester City Chelsea Premier League 02/10/19

Unluckily for Sarri, there are no regulatory constraints on Chelsea hiring and firing a coach during the transfer ban.

However, if the former Napoli boss is looking for a silver lining, the Blues being unable to sign players until the summer of 2020 would make the club a far less attractive proposition for anyone hoping to succeed him at the helm.

Indeed, new managers always seek several new signings in order to help them implement their own brand of football.

If there is one thing now counting in Sarri’s favour, it is the fact that he has never been preoccupied with his employers’ dealings in the transfer market. He has admitted himself that he finds the whole scene boring.

The Tuscan believes that his job as a coach is to improve the players at his disposal and that is precisely why he was considered a good fit for a club that knew last summer a transfer ban was possible.

Having said all of that, if results don’t improve in the coming week, Sarri is still likely to be sacked.

Patience is wearing thin and it will run out if there is no evidence of improvement in the Carabao Cup final against City on Sunday, or next week’s crucial Premier League meeting with top-four rivals Tottenham.


Eden Hazard Chelsea Manchester United

Despite the prospect of a transfer ban, Eden Hazard is still likely to leave for Real Madrid this summer.

Chelsea have been trying to tie the winger down to a new five-year contract and would obviously be loathe to losing the Belgium international without being able to immediately reinvest what would be a sizeable fee in reinforcements.

However, Hazard’s already-existing doubts over Chelsea’s ability to compete with Europe’s elite, coupled with his desire to move to Madrid, have hardly been helped by the news of the transfer ban.

Chelsea could point to how Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid remained competitive during their respective transfer bans, but it is unlikely to have a significant impact on the 28-year-old’s decision.


Gonzalo Higuain Chelsea 2019

Chelsea’s decision to appeal the ban will likely delay its implementation, given the case could go all the way to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Whether they believe they can overturn the ruling or not, it is the right move as it will buy the club time.

Without a delay, Chelsea would face problems signing Gonzalo Higuain and Mateo Kovacic, who are currently on loan at Stamford Bridge.

Higuain has an incentive-based loan arrangement which triggers clauses upon him reaching goal and appearance targets but a ban could create registration problems for Chelsea. It is not yet known if they would be able to active their right to make the deal permanent this summer if a ban is in place.

The Blues could look to find a way to bring back Alvaro Morata back to west London but they have already agreed to an option-to-buy deal for Atletico Madrid, so the Liga club are presently in charge of his future.

Meanwhile, Kovacic wants to stay at Chelsea beyond the end of the 2018-19 season but there was no option to buy included in the loan deal with Real Madrid. 

Consequently, if Chelsea do not delay the ban, they will not be able to sign the Croatia midfielder this summer.


Christian Pulisic USA

Happily, Christian Pulisic’s £58 million deal from Borussia Dortmund won’t be affected at all.

With the ban looming large on the horizon, Chelsea shrewdly signed the United States international in January.

The American attacking midfielder may have been immediately sent back to Signal Iduna Park for the remainder of the season but only on loan.

Pulisic is already a registered Chelsea player, meaning he is completely free to return to Stamford Bridge this summer.


Callum Hudson-Odoi Chelsea 2018-19

Callum Hudson-Odoi handed in a transfer request in January to try to convince Chelsea to let him join Bayern Munich for around £35 million.

The Blues refused, as they are keen to persuade the 18-year-old to commit his long-term future to the club, but the Bavarians have already confirmed that they will return with another bid in the summer.

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However, Chelsea could now use the transfer ban to persuade Hudson-Odoi and his fellow Academy products that their moment has arrived. In theory, no new signings would mean more opportunities for the club’s many talented youngsters.

Indeed, there are a host of talented youngsters in the club’s 40-strong loan army, including Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham, Fikayo Tomori and Reece James.

In addition, Chelsea could also elect to recall experienced loanees such as Kurt Zouma, Michy Batshuayi and Victor Moses.


South Africa’s Thembi Kgatlana joins Chinese Women’s Super League side Beijing Phoenix

2018 African Women’s Footballer of the Year Thembi Kgatlana has joined Chinese Women’s Super League outfit Beijing Phoenix on a one-year deal.

The 22-year-old parted ways with American side Houston Dash earlier in February 2019 after she scored twice and provided three assists in 16 appearances in the 2018 season.

Her Houston’s exit became unstoppable following interests from China, having emerged 2018 African best after her sterling display at the 2018 African Women’s Cup of Nations in Ghana.

And finally, the former University of Western Cape has completed her move to China after she agreed on personal terms with the Beijing based side on Friday.

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The South Africa international will now cover up for the void left by Spain striker Veronica Boquete, who recently completed her switch to American side Utah Royals.

With Beijing finishing sixth last season with 15 points from 14 games, Kim Björkegren’s side will be relying on the African star to excel in the coming season.

Kgatlana now becomes the fifth African currently plying their trade in the Chinese Women’s Super League, joining Nigeria trio of Asisat Oshoala, Onome Ebi, Uchechi Sunday and Malawi’s Tabitha Chawinga.


Hasselbaink on Chelsea’s transfer ban: Get Hazard signed up!

Chelsea must tie Eden Hazard down to a new long-term contract after being hit with a transfer ban, according to Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink.

The Blues have been banned from signing any new players during the next two transfer windows, after FIFA determined they had breached rules regarding the registration of minors.

Hazard, who is contracted until 2020, has long been linked with a summer switch to Real Madrid and he admitted last year that he ‘dreams’ of one day playing at the Santiago Bernabeu.

As revealed by Goal, the Belgian is keen to make the move to Madrid in the summer, although the Blues’ transfer ban, which they’ve announced they do plan to appeal, could now muddy the waters.

Hasselbaink, who played at Stamford Bridge between 2000 and 2004, believes his old club must now make extending Hazard’s current deal their number one priority.

“They can’t replace him or get somebody who they can work on to become as good as Hazard,” Hasselbaink told Sky Sports. “I know they have bought [Christian] Pulisic, but they will need more to replace Hazard.

“It’s now about believing in Chelsea and them persuading him to sign a long contract.”

Chelsea have endured a miserable 2018-19 campaign so far under Italian boss Maurizio Sarri, slipping to sixth in the Premier League and suffering a fifth-round FA Cup exit at the hands of Manchester United.

Sarri, who, as revealed by Goal, has three games to save his job, has been widely criticised for his rigid tactics and stubborn selection policy, which has seen the likes of Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Callum Hudson-Odoi restricted to only a few appearances across all competitions.

And Hasselbaink believes that Chelsea’s transfer ban might benefit the younger players in the squad, with more opportunities likely to be forthcoming over the coming months.

“It’s not good for Chelsea, particularly with how things are going at the present time,” he added. “But on the other hand, you can spin it, in a way it is good news for the younger players like Callum Hudson Odoi and also Loftus Cheek, who now will get chances.

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“They will have to look at their youth if this [transfer] ban is held.”

The Blues are now gearing up to play against Manchester City in the Carabao Cup final this weekend, just two weeks after suffering an embarrassing 6-0 defeat against the Premier League champions.

Sarri’s side will then resume Premier League duties three days later as Tottenham arrive at Stamford Bridge, before a London derby against Fulham the following Sunday.


Chelsea plan to appeal transfer ban as they ‘categorically refute’ FIFA findings

Chelsea have stated their intention to appeal the two-window transfer ban imposed on them by FIFA for alleged breaches of regulations regarding the acquisition of players under the age of 18.

A statement released on the club’s official website read: “Chelsea FC has today received a decision from the FIFA Disciplinary Committee concerning alleged breaches of the FIFA Regulations that relate to the international transfer of players under the age of 18.

“The decision imposes a transfer ban of two consecutive registration periods and a fine of 600k Swiss francs.

“Chelsea FC categorically refutes the findings of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee and will therefore be appealing the decision.

“The club wishes to emphasise that it respects the important work undertaken by FIFA in relation to the protection of minors and has fully cooperated with FIFA throughout its investigation.

“Initially, Chelsea FC was charged under Articles 19.1 and 19.3 in relation to 92 players. We welcome the fact that FIFA has accepted that there was no breach in relation to 63 of these players, but the club is extremely disappointed that FIFA has not accepted the club’s submissions in relation to the remaining 29 players.

“Chelsea FC acted in accordance with the relevant regulations and will shortly be submitting its appeal to FIFA.”

FIFA had charged the Premier League outfit over 29 of their deals involving young players, while also accusing them of “several other infringements relating to registration requirements for players”.

An official statement released by world football’s governing body read: “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.

“The Disciplinary Committee sanctioned Chelsea with a ban on registering new players at both national and international level for the next two (2) complete and consecutive registration periods. This ban applies to the club as a whole – with the exception of the women’s and futsal teams – and does not prevent the release of players.

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“Additionally, the club was fined CHF 600,000 and given a period of 90 days to regularise the situation of the minor players concerned.”

Chelsea, who already have a £58 million ($74m) deal in place to sign United States international Christian Pulisic from Borussia Dortmund over the summer, were given the right to appeal.

They intend to take up that option and fight their case with the relevant authorities.