First Barça, Madrid and Atlético, now Chelsea. FIFA have punished the London club for the same reasons, for the same ‘carelessness’ in signing young foreign players. Each case will have its own details and differences, but essentially it boils down to the same thing: some time ago FIFA set up precautions to slow down the haphazard arrival of child footballers from poor countries, mostly Africa and South America, to wealthy ones, with the trafficking world preying on the dreams of these children and their families. Only a handful of the youngsters make it, and for each one that does hundreds fall away and are uprooted, forced to make a living any way they can.
Many support this approach by asking what more could one of these kids want - at least they have food and education for a few years in one of the major European football academies, where they learn not only how to play football but also a different language, and even gain a new perspective. That view is not an unreasonable one, but not all are academies at the big clubs of European football and it’s hard to make exceptions when it comes to legislating. Now it’s Chelsea who have been banned, which possibly goes some way towards assuaging the complex we have in Spain that, until now, we were the only ones being punished.
Despite this purge, life continues to be rosy for many of our clubs, although not everyone has come away unscathed from the whole business. Arda Turan and Aleix Vidal, on the face of it both decent signings, were adversely affected by spending six months looking on from the bench. The same happened to Vitolo, whose ups and downs at Atlético share similarities, although he was finally loaned out to Las Palmas. Now it’s Real Madrid who could suffer indirectly because of the situation with Eden Hazard. If the ban is upheld, Chelsea will not be able to sign any players and, of course, are unlikely to let their star player walk out the door. Chelsea have said they will appeal and Madrid will, undoubtedly, be waiting for the outcome with bated breath.