Barcelona was banned by FIFA from signing any new players for next season after being found guilty on Wednesday of repeatedly breaching transfer regulations regulations in signing youth players to its renowned La Masia program.
The Spanish club later announced that it would appeal FIFA's decision. The heavy sanction, which covers the summer and January transfer windows, followed an investigation over the past year into Barcelona's signing of players under the age of 18 from 2009 to 2013.
FIFA found the signing of 10 un-named players to be in breach of its rules covering the protection of minors. A fine of 450,000 Swiss francs ($509,000) was also imposed on Barcelona, which was given 90 days "to regularize the situation of all minor players concerned."
Barcelona released a 14-point rebuttal, vowing to appeal the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport if it did not succeed in reversing the decision with FIFA and be allowed to sign during the transfer window.
"Ever since FIFA opened the case the players' licenses were canceled and they have not participated in any official games," Barcelona said in a statement that mostly pointed fingers at the Spanish and Catalan football federation, along with FIFA, while defending La Masia as "an example" of social responsibility in educating young players on and off the field.
"These players have all been given the option to remain with the club despite their licenses being revoked," the statement added.
The Spanish Football Federation was also found by the world governing body to have violated the rules covering the registration of minors and fined 500,000 Swiss francs ($565,500).
Barcelona said in February 2013 that FIFA had sent a communication instructing it not to select six players who are under 18 for its youth matches — South Korea's Lee Seung Woo, Paik Seung-Ho and Jang Gyeolhee, Theo Chendri of France, Nigerian-Dutchman Bobby Adekanye and Patrice Sousia of Cameroon.
The international transfer of players under the age of 18 can only go through if their parents move to the country for non-football reasons. Players between 16 and 18 can move within Europe if certain standards of education and living conditions are met.
The punishment, which prevents Barcelona from signing any players until the summer of 2015, leaves recent agreements with Borussia Monchengladbach goalkeeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen and Croatian teenager Alen Halilovic to join the club in July in limbo.