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Barcelona have been slapped with a 14-month transfer ban by FIFA after an investigation revealed that they had broken the rules on signing players under 18.
The announcement was made on Wednesday after FIFA looked into some of the more recent dealings by the Catalan outfit.
The defending La Liga champions have also been hit with a fine of
450,000 Swiss Francs (£305,000) and the Spanish Football Federation
(RFEF) has also been sanctioned by football’s governing body for the same offence.
Barcelona now have a 90-day period to respond to the charges and are expected to take that time to consider their options and decide whether it is worth appealing the verdict.
FIFA rules state that international transfers can only be granted if the players are over the age of 18 or if they meet one of three qualifying criteria.
Players under the age of 18 can move to a different nation if their parents are moving for non-footballing reasons, if they come from another country within the European Union or European Economic Area and are aged between 16 and 18, or if they live within 100km of the club.
It is understood that the Blaugrana acquired several players under the age of 18 who were registered and played for the outfit between 2009 and 2013.
FIFA’s disciplinary committee insists that they are out to protect the best interests for young players and released this statement: “On the basis of this analysis, the committee concluded that ‘the interest in protecting the appropriate and healthy development of a minor as a whole must prevail over purely sporting interests’.”