Premier League giant facing prospects of two-year transfer ban

Chelsea might get banned from signing players for four transfer windows after the Premier League club was investigated for signing under-18 players, including former striker Bertrand Traore, illegally

FIFA has suggested the ban after leading an investigation that took place over three years, according to French source Mediapart (h/t Matt Hughes of The Times). The investigation, which was conducted by the Integrity and Compliance unit of world football’s governing body, found that the Blues had signed as many as 14 youth players through unlawful means. FIFA’s investigation began after Traore moved to Chelsea from Burkina Faso before his 18th birthday.

Mediapart has broken down the penalties that could be levied on the Blues: “FIFA’s Integrity and Compliance unit have recommended that Chelsea should be banned from signing players for one transfer window for the Traoré signing, and three further transfer windows for 13 other offences, plus a fine of £45,000.”

Traore’s transfer grabbed headlines after FIFA found evidence that he had played for the West London club when he was just 16, appearing in a U-18 game against London rivals Arsenal. Further details showed that Chelsea had paid £155,000 to Traore’s mother for first-refusal rights on the player. This arrangement was aided via another payment of £13,000 to AJE Bobo-Dioulasso, a club under Traore’s mother’s care, when her son was also on its books.

Chelsea were declared to have “acted in bad faith” by concurring on an option for four-and-a-half-years. This is an outright violation of FIFA rules preventing players aged under 18 to be optioned for more than three years. Eventually, Traore is said to have played 25 games for Chelsea at youth level, despite not being registered with the English Football Association, according to Hughes.

Now 23, Traore was a major factor behind Ajax reaching the UEFA Europa League final during a productive loan spell in the 2016/17 campaign. Last summer, he signed for Ligue 1 side Lyon on a five-year contract. If FIFA’s recommendation come true, Chelsea will find it difficult to remain competitive in the Premier League and regain its status as a UEFA Champions League club.

Author’s take

It is largely a spend-more-than-rivals-for-success phase in football, and for Chelsea, a club used to spending exorbitant amounts for players, not doing so could see Chelsea trailing its rivals over the next two years. There is an upshot, however, as any ban may force the Blues to finally begin using a deep and talented academy. Graduates such as midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek could see playing time go up substantially if this ban is passed.

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