On Monday morning at the Château de Béthusy in Switzerland, the headquarters of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), a delegation from Atlético Madrid will seek to appeal a transfer ban imposed by FIFA in January 2016.
Atlético can't sign players until 2018
FIFA banned Atlético Madrid, and capital-city rivals Real Madrid, from signing players for a period of two transfer windows (January 2017, and summer 2017), as a result of irregularities in the registrations of foreign youth players. The Calderón-based club also received a fine of 900,000 Swiss Francs (approximately €843,000).
The delegation from Atlético will travel to Switzerland to present evidence to justify the registrations of 183 foreign players under the age of 18. Clemente Villaverde, the director of the club, will lead the group, seconded by the club’s lawyer Christian Keidel, from the Munich-based law firm Martens.
Atléti lawyer confident
Speaking to AS in March, Keidel was confident that Atlético would be successful, as “the origin of the problem is situated in Spanish law and the regulations of its federation, not the behaviour of Atlético towards these players.”
Keidel continued, “Basically the FIFA rule is you cannot sign young foreign players to protect these kids. But the rule does not stand when the player already lives in that country for another reason… most of their players are foreign, but were born in Spain.”
Atlético’s arch-rivals from the other side of the capital, who they will face in the Champions League semi-final, successfully reduced their ban in September 2016. As a result, Real Madrid will be able to sign players from the 1st of July 2017. Keidel stated that “the situation with Real Madrid was the same”.
“[Zinedine] Zidane’s son, for example, was among the one of the supposedly-illegal players… but he has lived in Madrid for a long time.”
Atlético, FIFA, CAS propose judges
As per the normal appeal process, three judges will listen to each party's case, before delivering a verdict. One judge has been proposed by FIFA, one proposed by Atlético Madrid, and one chosen by CAS itself.
However, when Real Madrid appealed their ban, only one judge heard the evidence and delivered a decision. It is possible that the guidelines will allow this to happen for the Atlético hearing, if both parties are in agreement, and CAS deems it appropriate.