As the Daily Mail gleefully point out, this is now the third time in eight years that FIFA have opened a probe into Chelsea’s dealings on the transfer market when it comes to youth players. The first was the Gaël Kakuta case in 2009, the second was the Bertrand Traoré inquiry last year. What the Mail point out far less vociferously of course is that in both cases, Chelsea were eventually cleared of any wrongdoing. In Kakuta’s case, it took an appeal, but nothing ever did come from the Traoré case (nor should it have — there was no breach of any actual regulations).
These sorts of inquiries have made plenty of headlines in recent years, with Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Atlético Madrid all banned by FIFA from registering new players for multiple transfer windows and both Manchester City and Liverpool copping fines and/or youth transfer bans from the Premier League (not FIFA).
According to the Mail, Chelsea’s supposed infractions are of a smaller magnitude than any of the Spanish clubs, but they provide no additional detail beyond that. A FIFA spokesman of course said nothing substantive either since the investigation is ongoing.
“As the investigation is on-going no further comment is possible for the time being.”
The Mail contacted Chelsea for a statement, which unsurprisingly denies any wrongdoing.
“Chelsea FC complies with all FIFA Statutes and Regulations when recruiting players.”
Since we have no idea what this concerns other than transfers involving players aged 18 and under, it’s tough to really know if we should be concerned at all.
While FIFA rules prevent the transfer of players under the age of 18, inside the European Union, players can move at 16, provided that their new club gives the player not only a football but a general education as well (which is already part of the Academy setup). This is how, for example, Chelsea signed several youngsters from the Netherlands over the years, such as Jeffrey Bruma, Nathan Ake, Patrick van Aanholt, or Daishawn Redan a few months ago, just to name a few. Players can also move at any age if their family moves for reasons unrelated to football (such as Jeremie Boga moving to London at age 11 with his family to join his father, who was already working there).
Chelsea signed several young players this summer, some in deals that had been agreed well in advance (like goalkeepers Karlo Žiger and Nicolas Tie) and others that were more opportunistic acquisitions (like Billy Gilmour, the aforementioned Daishawn Redan, or the young Welsh player Ethan Ampadu who might already be on the first-team bench later today).