LONDON (AP) — Barcelona will be barred from signing any players in 2015 after FIFA rejected the club's appeal against a one-year ban for breaching rules over the transfer of youngsters.
The Spanish giants will now ask sport's highest court to overturn the punishment, which resulted from the signing of 10 players under the age of 18 to the club's renowned La Masia academy. FIFA found the signings to have violated rules designed to prevent child trafficking.
Because Barcelona launched an appeal against the transfer embargo in April, the ban was temporarily lifted during the current transfer window, which closes on Sept. 1. That allowed Barcelona to spend around $240 million strengthening during the offseason, with Uruguay striker Luis Suarez the headline signing from Liverpool.
A fine of 450,000 Swiss francs ($494,000) was also imposed on Barcelona over the signing of players under the age of 18 from 2009 to 2013. Barcelona said it would appeal against the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, calling the FIFA ruling "an affront to the spirit of our Masia, a world renowned example of academic, human and sporting education."
Lionel Messi, the biggest star to emerge from La Masia, has defended the training academy which shaped his career.
"It formed me with the values of La Masia and I am what I am today thanks to those values," Messi said in an in-house interview promoted by the club on Twitter after the FIFA announcement.
Continue reading this story on the...