The Catalan Club of Controversy: Why do Barcelona kick off such a fuss?

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It wouldn’t be a footballing summer without Barcelona being involved in controversy and this summer was no different. Despite being under a worldwide transfer ban until January 2016, they still signed wingers Arda Turan and Aleix Vidal from Atletico Madrid and Sevilla respectively. They may not be able to play until January, but that’s not really the point. A transfer ban means that you can’t sign any players for the length of the ban, so how FIFA let them get away with it is just amazing.

But just when we thought they couldn’t cause any more controversy they have done exactly that by going on a major crusade to get Arda Turan to be able to be registered for the club. Clubs don’t normally get to tinker with their selected 25 man squads anyway, but to try and include a player you shouldn’t even have is taking it too far. They are trying to persuade FIFA and La Liga to let them register him early and have threatened to take it to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) if they don’t get their way. If the decision to ban Turan from playing is overturned, it may be a good result for Barca, but an awful decision for a sport that has already had its integrity questioned in the wake of the FIFA corruption scandal.

Now lets go back to the start and look at how it all started. They received a 14 month transfer ban in April 2014 for breaking FIFA rules for the signing of players under the age of 18. Rules state that under 18s can only move to a club from another country as long as one of the following 3 conditions are met. The first condition is that he player can sign for a club, as long as their parents have moved to the country of the club in question for non-footballing reasons. The next condition is that they are at least 16 years old and from a country in the European Union or European Economic Area. The final condition is that the player must live within 100km of the club. If none of these conditions are met then deservedly the club will be punished, as was the case with Barca.

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The problem for FIFA was whilst most clubs would accept they were in the wrong, Barca vowed to battle FIFA to get the decision reversed. A week before the transfer ban was issued they signed Alen Halilovic, who was 17 at the time, from Croatian club Dinamo Zagreb. The club were also on the verge of signing goalkeeper Marc-Andre Ter Stagen so needed to buy themselves some time, so they put in what everyone saw as a frivolous appeal. It took until August 2014 for FIFA to reject the appeal and in that time the club went on a major spending spree which exceeded the 150 million euros mark. The extra time gave them the chance to add Jeremy Mathieu, Thomas Vermaelen, Luis Suarez, Ivan Rakitic and Claudio Bravo to their acquisitions of Ter Stagen and Halilovic.

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Not content with the decision to uphold the ban, they took it to CAS who in December 2014 also rejected the appeal and the ban was put in place to expire in time for them to start signing players in January 2016. As already mentioned, this hasn’t been the case with Turan and Vidal coming to the club. People will point to the fact they can’t play as FIFA doing their job, but I completely disagree. This was screaming out for FIFA to refuse to sanction the signings and maybe even extend the ban for trying to abuse the rules. As expected the request to let Arda Turan be available for selection is set to be refused by both FIFA and La Liga, but if they weren’t given the OK to sign the player then this debate wouldn’t even be occurring. The Court of Arbitration for Sport is really there to sort out any major disputes involved with sport, but this shouldn’t even be a debate. Barca have been constantly flouting the rules and the only way to stop them doing it is to come down hard on them.

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To make matters worse key players such as Lionel Messi and Javier Mascherano are being investigated for suspected tax fraud. Couple this with the fact that the Neymar signing is mired in controversy it has been a ridiculous and controversial 30 months for the club. Nobody actually knows how much Barca actually spent on Neymar with the club claiming that they spent 57 million euros on the transfer, with 40 million going to Neymar’s dad and 17 million to Santos. The club was done for tax fraud in relation to the case and were fined, but now it has also emerged that Santos are looking to sue Neymar for what they believe is a breach of contract.

In conclusion, it is clear to see that Barcelona are very much caught up in controversy and it shows no signs of abating. The only way this will be sorted is to come down hard on the, but I can’t see this happening to the footballing world just has to hope that CAS uphold the denial to register Arda Turan. Football is fighting a losing battle against corruption, but this can be fought and dealing with Barca effectively will at least keep some of the integrity FIFA and football as a whole in tact.

Featured Image: All rights reserved by Jim Pop

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