La Liga clubs facing FIFA punishments - report
An increased reliance on foreigners in La Liga youth systems in the wake of Barcelona's FIFA-imposed transfer ban has suggested that other clubs, including Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid, may face similar punishments, according to a report.
FIFA only permits international youth transfers when one of the following three situations apply: the player's parents have moved country for their own non-related reasons; the move takes place within the European Union if a player is aged between 16 and 18; or the player's home is less than 50 kilometres from the national border being crossed.
Barca were found to have breached numerous violations of these regulations, with the cases of players including Koreans Lee Seung-Woo and Jan Gyeolhee, Cameroonian Patrick Sousia and American Ben Lederman in particular being highlighted in media reports. The lengthy official investigation led to Barca being handed a one-year transfer ban, with the Court of Arbitration for Sport upholding the punishment late last year.
It has more recently emerged that FIFA is now investigating other La Liga clubs -- including Real Madrid -- over similar claims.
Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has said that the practice of top European clubs signing overseas youngsters is so prevalent that a "Bosman-style" change is likely to come that would see the current rules being significantly relaxed.
According to a special report in AS, Atletico are the side in La Liga with most non-Spanish players in its "cantera" -- or youth academy -- with a total of 43 kids from 26 different countries. The report says that 21 of these are under 16, including three children aged 10, originally from Brazil, Ethiopia and Guinea Bissau.
AS has also reported that FIFA's investigation into Real Madrid's transfers includes concerns around four youngsters who are aged 12 or younger, including one from Japan who arrived aged nine after impressing in a mini-tournament, and who is now 11.
Madrid have issued a lengthy statement on their official website detailing the club's position that all its youth players had been signed without any rules being broken, and highlighting apparent errors in FIFA's correspondence regarding the matter.
Other clubs to feature in the AS report include Elche, whose youth setup is reported to include 30 kids from 20 countries, while Villarreal have 27 youngsters from 19 countries, including six from Romania. The report said that, of the 20 Primera Division sides, only Eibar do not have a foreigner in their cantera.
The widening of the investigations has also raised questions over relationships between La Liga clubs and Wanda Group. Wanda, owned by China's richest man Wang Jianlin, recently bought a 20 per cent share in Atletico, and also has deals with Valencia and Villarreal. AS reports that these arrangements involve each club receiving 60,000 euros per head for 20 kids receiving both a footballing and general education.
Fellow Madrid-based newspaper Marca, meanwhile, claims that Spain is the European country with by far the most overseas kids at clubs. The report says 2014 brought the arrival of 352 new youngsters to La Liga outfits -- more than double the number of Portugal, which is second on the list.