$500,000 fine but no transfer ban for City

English champs given lighter Fifa penalty than rivals Chelsea for breaching underage player rules

PARIS • Premier League champions Manchester City escaped a Fifa transfer ban on Tuesday after admitting to a breach of regulations on signing youth players and were instead fined 370,000 Swiss francs (S$528,000).

Chelsea were handed a one-year transfer ban and fined 600,000 Swiss francs by football's world governing body in February for a similar violation, a ruling they are appealing.

Fifa explained it "took into account the fact that Manchester City accepted their responsibility".

A Fifa spokesman also told Britain's Daily Mirror: "In its decision on Manchester City, Fifa's disciplinary committee took into consideration all specific circumstances of the case as well as the club's cooperation in clarifying the relevant facts.

"It is important to stress that the specific circumstances of this case differ from previous cases involving breaches relating to the international transfer and registration of players under the age of 18."

Fifa found breaches in 29 cases out of 92 investigated at Chelsea, who denied any wrongdoing.

City said the fine concerned "the international transfer of players under the age of 18, particularly in relation to their trial periods and participation in friendly games".

They added: "The club accept responsibility for the breaches which arose as a result of misinterpretation of the regulations in question. All of the breaches occurred before December 2016 when guidance on the interpretation of the provisions was issued, since which date Manchester City have been fully compliant."

  • Protecting U-18 players' interests

  • Fifa's strict rules on international transfers involving Under-18 players are to help protect children from exploitation and trafficking.

    Such deals can only be completed if:

    • The purpose of the player's parents moving to the country where the new club is located are for non-footballing reasons.

    • They live within 100km of the overseas club.

    • Both clubs are in the European Union or European Economic Area and the player is aged between 16 and 18. The buying club must further fulfil other criteria relating to education, training, living conditions and support.

Last year, Fifa cleared City of any wrongdoing over their 2016 signing of Benjamin Garre from Velez Sarsfield just after the Argentinian midfielder's 16th birthday.

Last year, two players from the Right to Dream football academy in Ghana, local Dominic Oduro and Sierra Leone's George Davies told Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten that they signed for City and played in youth matches before they turned 18.

Both spent two years at the club. Davies last played for Riga FC and Oduro now plays for the Tampa Bay Rowdies in the United States.

City are also being investigated by both the Premier League and Football Association in England, as well as European governing body Uefa over the club's adherence to Financial Fair Play rules.

The FA said in February it was looking into allegations City paid £200,000 (S$335,000) to winger Jadon Sancho's agent when the player was 14 and still at Watford.

FA rules state that young players cannot be represented by an agent until they turn 16. Sancho later left City for Borussia Dortmund and is now an England international.

Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid have all served recent transfer bans for breaking Fifa rules on the issue.

REUTERS, DPA, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 15, 2019, with the headline '$500,000 fine but no transfer ban for City'. Print Edition | Subscribe