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Barcelona's transfer ban appeal rejected by FIFA

ESPN staff
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Barcelona will be unable to sign any players in 2015 after FIFA rejected the club's appeal against their punishment for repeatedly breaking youth transfer regulations.

Barcelona were banned by FIFA in April from signing any players for two consecutive transfer windows after being found guilty of breaching regulations which are in place to avoid the exploitation and trafficking of young players.

FIFA agreed to suspend the measure pending an appeal, and the Catalan club have been busy during the current transfer window spending more than £120 million on Luis Suarez, Ivan Rakitic, Marc Andre Ter-Stegen, Claudio Bravo, Thomas Vermaelen, Alen Halilovic and Jeremy Mathieu.

Despite Barcelona issuing a statement on Wednesday morning to confirm they had met with FIFA in Zurich and that the process was ongoing, FIFA has now rejected their claim.

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Barcelona immediately signalled their intention to take the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in a final bid to get the ban overturned. In February 2010, Chelsea had their transfer ban been lifted by CAS and the club were cleared of any wrongdoing regarding the transfer of Gael Kakuta from Ligue 1 club Lens in July 2007.

Barcelona will be able to sign players up to the end of the summer transfer window on September 1 before the ban comes into force in January and extends throughout next summer. They will not be able to add to their squad again until January 2016.

A statement on FIFA's official website read: "The FIFA Appeal Committee has decided to reject the appeals lodged by Spanish club FC Barcelona and the Real Federacion Espanola de Futbol (RFEF) and to confirm in their entirety the decisions rendered by the FIFA Disciplinary Committee in the respective cases relating to the protection of minors.

"As such, FC Barcelona is to serve a transfer ban which will see the club prevented from registering any players at both national and international level for two complete and consecutive transfer periods, starting with the next registration period (January 2015) given that the appeal of the club had been granted suspensive effect by the chairman of the FIFA Appeal Committee.

"FC Barcelona has also been ordered to pay a fine of CHF 450,000 (£300,000) and been given a period of 90 days from today in which to regularise the situation of all minor players concerned.

"Meanwhile, the RFEF has been ordered to pay a fine of CHF 500,000 (£330,000) and granted a period of one year in which to regularise their regulatory framework and existing system concerning the international transfer of minors in football."

According to AS, Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu was not present at the meeting with FIFA, with the delegation formed by La Masia director Carles Folguera, two youth players currently at the academy, and the director of the Leon XIII school which is attended by all youngsters at the club. Atletico Madrid director Clemente Villaverde also reportedly attended to help argue Barcelona's case.

Barcelona's argument for overturning the ban was not thought to be based on denying that FIFA's strict rules were broken. Instead the club asked to be viewed as an exception given their excellent facilities and reputation for developing well-rounded young players.

Only hours before Tuesday's meeting took place, Blaugrana sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta told reporters at Suarez's media presentation that he was confident the ban would be lifted.

"What we want is to explain [to FIFA] that the only intention of the club is to form the person to become a footballer," Zubizarreta said. "And I believe we are a reference point in this aspect."

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