Kids, Fifa, Madrid and Atletico: as transfer sanctions are upheld

Fifa has ratified the sanctions given to Real Madrid and Atlético, two transfer windows without registering any players, for the case regarding underage signings, a controversial decision (as it was when it happened to Barça) against which there is an appeal option to the CAS, where it is difficult to remain positive, given its history. With the squads that Madrid and Atlético have now assembled, as well as the enthusiastic loaning policy they’ve both adopted to several clubs, it is likely that this season their absence in the market will not be fatal. It happened to Barça and they did very well. In saying this, in the case of Madrid, interestingly, it comes after a summer of 'quasi-abstinence’, in which there has been no big signing other than the second coming of Morata.

Morata: the only real signing for Madrid this summer.

Behind the sanctions

But sometimes a discussion or litigation is prolonged not for any actual benefit but to demonstrate that you are right. If they are both forced into abstinence it is not by their own will, but that of Fifa, an organization which can easily be presented without moral legitimacy. It is also easy to say that the youngsters are better off in the academies of Madrid and Atlético (or that of Barcelona) and would otherwise be hard-pressed to make it out of where they come from. But when Fifa made this statement they were not thinking of the best academies, but about a sinister trafficking practice, that began decades ago, that has left boys scattered, far from their roots and their parents.

Atlético Madrid B before a game in 2009

A lesser evil

The guidelines were written for this reason, it is the same for everyone and it sought to end an infamous problem in football. It is imperfect, we know, and we could get into a debate on exceptions, monitoring, tracking etc. But as it stands it is the only thing we have against the trafficking of children whose dream of playing in the Champions League started in their homes from an early age. In academies throughout Europe the number of home-grown players is dwindling and there is a growing proportion of those brought in for the adventure, as they search for another Messi. These sanctions aim to moderate this situation. And for me it seems, at worst, the lesser evil.

Searching for the next superstar means clubs will search far and wide.