Chelsea in Fifa probe over youth transfers

LONDON • Premier League club Chelsea has said it is cooperating with a Fifa investigation into possible violations of the world football governing body's rules regarding the signing of foreign players under the age of 18.

Chelsea and four other unidentified English clubs are under investigation by Fifa for the alleged violations and could face transfer bans if found guilty, according to multiple reports in British media.

The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian and The Times said the Blues broke the rules when they signed Burkina Faso forward Bertrand Traore, who has since been signed by Lyon, in 2014.

The news outlets also added that a probe had been launched into the signings of 14 Under-18 players by Chelsea following the then-18-year-old's move.

According to the Daily Mail, Fifa "have found evidence to suggest the club misled them regarding the real dates and acted in bad faith".

French website Mediapart reported on Wednesday that Fifa's Integrity and Compliance unit would seek to impose a two-year transfer ban on the clubs as well as a fine of 500,000 Swiss francs (S$683,800).

Mediapart is one of several media outlets publishing documents obtained by investigative website Football Leaks.

Chelsea said in a statement on Wednesday that "the club has fully cooperated with Fifa and has provided comprehensive evidence demonstrating its compliance with the applicable Fifa regulations".

Fifa's rules prohibit international transfers of players aged 18 or under unless their parents have emigrated for reasons unconnected to football, or both player and club are based within 50km of a national border.

LaLiga clubs Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid have fallen foul of the rules in the past, with all three serving transfer bans for violations.

Fifa opened its investigation into the clubs in September last year and said in a statement on Wednesday it had not reached a decision.

"The proceedings are ongoing and, to date, no decision has been passed by the Fifa judicial bodies. Thus, the clubs are to be presumed innocent unless decided otherwise. No further information can be provided as the cases are ongoing," it said.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 16, 2018, with the headline 'Chelsea in Fifa probe over youth transfers'. Print Edition | Subscribe