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Catalan club president hits back at FIFA ban saying punishment is "unjust"
Barcelona banned from participating in next two transfer windows by FIFA
FIFA ruled that Catalan club broke rules on signing of international players under 18
President Bartomeu says FIFA investigation prompted by an "anonymous complaint"
FC Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu says the transfer ban imposed by FIFA is “unjust” and the club will appeal.
Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, Bartomeu stood firmly behind the Catalan club’s coaching system which has nurtured some of the club’s biggest stars including Lionel Messi, Andreas Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez.
“The La Masia system is something not to be touched. It won’t be changed and we will fight this unjust attack on a model which has been a huge success over the last three decades,” Bartomeu said.
Football’s world governing body announced Wednesday that they were sanctioning Barcelona for infringing transfer rules relating to players under the age of 18.
Under FIFA laws, clubs are not allowed to sign international players under the age of 18 unless the player is moving within the European Union, is aged between 16 and 18 and moving with their parents or the club and the player both live within 50 kilometers of a shared national border.
Following an investigation, FIFA’s Disciplinary Committee concluded that Barcelona had broken these rules in the case of 10 young players.
As a result, the club has been issued with a transfer ban at both national and international level for two complete and consecutive transfer periods and handed a fine of CHF 450,000 ($508,000).
“FIFA is punishing a method that it tried, tested and proven over the last 35 years,” he added.
“FIFA know that we do things correctly – we had Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Xavi as first, second and third in the Ballon d’Or. We want all of our fans and members to show their indignation at this sanction.”
Barcelona had supplied FIFA with information on approximately 50 players under the age of 18 who had registered and played for the club between 2009 and 2013, Bartomeu said.
Bartomeu also revealed that he has “some evidence” that may point to a conspiracy – FIFA’s investigation was prompted by an “anonymous complaint” about an “unnamed player,” he said.
“For a while now someone wants to damage Barcelona,” Bartomeu said. “We are investigating where the anonymous complaint came from. Barça have done nothing wrong, we just looked for talent. I cannot say the suspicions point to one club or another.”
Bartomeu has not discussed the punishment with FIFA boss Sepp Blatter but Secretary General Jerome Valcke “considers the measure excessive,” he said.
“Barça did not break the rules. When they told (us) the kids could not play, they stopped playing,” he added.
“We ask FIFA to look from case to case, the circumstances of each kid, so that there can be exceptions to the rules. As a club, we accept FIFA regulations because we are a FIFA member.”
The club has 10 days in which to lodge their appeal.