As the world of football reels from the shock of Chelsea’s 18-month transfer ban, thoughts will now begin to turn to the long-term implications of Fifa’s decision.
The penalty handed down yesterday by the organisation’s Dispute Resolution Chamber isn’t completely unprecedented – Roma were banned from signing players during the January 2006 transfer window as a result of their pursuit of Auxerre’s Philippe Mexes – but there is no doubt the Blues are the most high profile victims to fall foul of Fifa’s attempt to stamp out club’s questionable practices in poaching young talent.
As I digested the news yesterday afternoon, my overriding emotion was not, as you might think, anger. In all honesty I agree with Fifa’s decision. Something should be done to stop big clubs taking young talent from abroad with seemingly little disregard for the rules.
However, my support will waver if this isn’t followed up with further action to combat a problem that is endemic in football – and not just with youth players.
Chelsea may be more guilty than most clubs when it comes to breaking the rules, but to pretend that they are the only club which has tapped up players is despairingly naive.
Arsenal have faced questions regarding their pursuits of Cesc Fabregas and Mathieu Flamini and also their links to the Ivorian side Beveren. Tottenham recently faced criticism for the manner in which they signed Peter Crouch and John Bostock.
Allegations surrounding the transfers of Owen Hargreaves, Dimitar Berbatov and Federico Macheda to Manchester United have been made in the last three years. The Premier League champions could very well be the next to feel the wrath in Fifa’s crackdown.
The Red Devils are in hot water over their conduct in securing Paul Pogba from Le Harve. According to a number of newspapers this morning, the French side intend to take their case to Fifa, seeking a similar punishment to the one handed down to Carlo Ancelotti’s side.
Fifa should also be mindful of extending their remit to punishing clubs from other countries as well.
That is unless they want to give further credence to the idea of there being some sort of anti-English conspiracy after Arsenal’s Eduardo was banned for two matches in a bid to combat another endemic problem in modern football – diving.
I certainly won’t be holding my breath. Meanwhile, Carlo Ancelotti will be hoping Chelsea’s latest indiscretion won’t damage his chances winning either the Premier League or the Holy Grail – the Champions League.