Chelsea have refuted claims they may have breached transfer regulations when signing young players from overseas. The Guardian reported on Thursday that world governing FIFA had pinpointed 25 cases after carrying out an investigation into the club’s recruitment of players aged under 18. According to the newspaper, FIFA’s transfer matching system (TMS) examined incoming deals involving the Premier League club and forwarded its findings to the organisation’s disciplinary committee. A club spokesman said: “Chelsea FC complies with all FIFA statutes and regulations when recruiting players.”
FIFA has been approached by Press Association Sport for comment. International transfers are only permitted for players over the age of 18 – unless the player in question meets one of three qualifying criteria. Under-18s can move to a club in a different country if their parents move there for non-footballing reasons, if they are from another nation within the European Union or European Economic Area and aged between 16 and 18, or if they live within 100km of the club. Chelsea faced scrutiny in January 2016 after it emerged Burkina Faso international Bertrand Traore played for their under-18s side against Arsenal in 2011 when aged 16, in an apparent breach of FIFA regulations.
The London club at the time considered forward Traore to be the subject of an option agreement which allowed him to play in friendly games. He formally signed for the Blues in January 2014, and after loan spells with Vitesse and Ajax he joined Lyon last summer on a permanent deal. If Chelsea are found to have broken any rules, FIFA would have the power to impose sanctions. Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid have previously been issued with transfer bans by FIFA under similar circumstances, after the Spanish clubs were both found to have registered foreign players who were under age. Real Madrid were prevented from signing players in the January 2017 transfer window, and Atletico could not buy in the same window and during last summer.