Angry Chelsea hit by signings ban
BBC Sport’s James Pearce explains the Kakuta ruling
Chelsea have been banned from signing any new players until January 2011.
The punishment was meted out by world governing body Fifa after the club was found guilty of inducing Gael Kakuta to break his contract with Lens in 2007.
A Fifa statement said the Blues would not be able to register new players in the next two transfer windows.
Chelsea insist they will “mount the strongest appeal possible” and say the sanctions are “totally disproportionate to the alleged offence”.
A statement from the Premier League club, who will make their appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas), added: “We cannot comment further until we receive the full written rationale for this extraordinarily arbitrary decision.”
Fifa’s dispute resolution chamber (DRC) ruled French winger Kakuta, now 18, must also pay compensation of 780,000 euros (£682,000), for which Chelsea are “jointly and severally liable”.
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Lens lodged a complaint with world football’s governing body after Chelsea signed the winger two years ago.
Now the DRC has ruled Kakuta breached his contract with Lens and that Chelsea induced him to do so.
Fifa’s statement continued: “The French club had lodged a claim with Fifa seeking compensation for breach of contract from the player and requesting also sporting sanctions to be imposed on the player and the English club for breach of contract and inducement to breach of contract.
“The DRC found that the player had indeed breached a contract signed with the French club. Equally, the DRC deemed it to be established that the English club induced the player to such breach.”
Chelsea must pay additional “training compensation” of 130,000 euros (£114,000) to Lens, while the player has been banned from playing in official matches for four months.
Kakuta ended 2007/8, his first season with Chelsea, as the youth team’s top scorer and was voted the academy’s player of the year.
He played five times for the youth team and twice for the reserves in his second season before it was brought to an abrupt end in February when he suffered a double fracture of his ankle.
The Lille-born youngster has never played for Chelsea’s first team, although he is back to full fitness and has been featuring in the reserves this season.
Fifa’s decision to ban Chelsea means they will not be able to sign players in the January and summer 2010 transfer windows.
The player was under contract with us, and they came and stole him away from us
Lens president Gervais Martel
Former Chelsea player Pat Nevin thinks that could mean problems for Blues manager Carlo Ancelotti.
“He’s got a number of worries going ahead,” said Nevin, who played for Chelsea between 1983 and 1988.
“He’s going to lose a number of players to the African Cup of Nations around January-February time.
“Then there is the World Cup coming up. After a World Cup, your players are tired, and many of the Chelsea players will be involved. They’ll need to replenish their squad and, if they fail with this appeal, they won’t be able to.”
Lens president Gervais Martel said he felt the judgement was fair and would send out a warning message to larger clubs like Chelsea who break the rules.
“We expected this kind of decision. The player was under contract with us and they came and stole him away from us,” he said.
“Chelsea didn’t follow the rules. They contacted the player when he wasn’t even 16 and while he had been contracted to our training group from the age of eight.
“The financial sanction isn’t over the top given the nature of the infringement, but it’s really quite significant when it comes to not being able to recruit players.
“It’s an important message given that protecting up and coming youth players who are contracted to clubs is an issue being followed closely by Uefa president Michel Platini.”
Fifa punished Switzerland’s FC Sion for a similar offence in April and the club was told it could not sign players until the 2010 off-season.
This was punishment for luring Egypt goalkeeper Essam El Hadary in 2008 before his deal with Al-Ahly had expired.
Like Kakuta, El Hadary received a four-month ban from playing.
Sion have appealed to Cas, which has frozen the sanctions while it considers the case, allowing the club to trade before the current season began. A ruling is expected later this year.
Meanwhile Uefa, European football’s governing body, is keen to introduce a rule preventing the international transfer of players under the age of 18 after member associations, clubs, leagues and players agreed to the principle.
Speaking in March, Uefa president Platini: “The question of minors is above all a moral and ethical issue. We have a duty to take concrete steps to protect young players and training clubs.”