FIFA have a duty of care to look after young players who do not make the grade, according to sports law expert Jack Anderson.
The international governing body hit Barcelona with a transfer embargo for the next two windows on Wednesday due to irregularities found in their dealings at youth level.
Barca have announced their intention to appeal, confirmed by president Josep Maria Bartomeu in a press conference on Thursday, but Anderson – a lecturer in sports law at Queen’s University Belfast – feels FIFA have taken action to protect young players.
“There’s two sides to this. An opportunity to play for a big European club for a kid in South America or Africa or wherever – it’s a huge dream,” he told Perform. “And when the dream is realised, it’s fantastic. We’ve seen plenty of examples of that.
“But what FIFA are really looking out for here is that, a very small percentage of those children succeed to go on to the highest level, and really they have a duty of care – a corporate social responsibility – towards those who don’t make it.”
The ban sees Barca unable to complete any transfers until the end of the 2014-15 season – a punishment Anderson feels could really harm the Camp Nou outfit.
“The interesting point about this is that it is a heavy penalty,” he continued. “It’s an enduring penalty in the sense that it really gets to the heart of how a football club operates, which is the buying and selling of players.
“Fines for a big corporation such as Barcelona are relatively meaningless, but this is something that really, really goes to the heart of how it operates.
“It will be difficult to see how Barcelona would get that overturned at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (if the case reaches that point), but there may be some wiggle room with regards to sanction.
“We haven’t got the full details of the judgement yet, but FIFA seem to be pretty straightforward on that in the sense that they have the evidence, and the evidence is in the form of this electronic international player transfer system that they have, which monitors the transfer of players.
“They seem to have pretty strong documentary evidence on this.
“There is also, I presume, an exemplary nature to this in that, if other clubs are at this and they see that Barcelona have been punished in a really meaningful way, they will try and regularise and get their own practices in order.”
And Anderson revealed he would like to see FIFA use this case as a springboard to prevent similar instances occurring in the future.
“What you would like to see is it followed up in a meaningful way,” he added.
“We have players coming from certain countries in South America and certain countries in Africa, and the one thing that is interesting is that, by the time these children and their parents get to Europe for a trial, in a way it’s too late.
“What would be an idea is maybe if FIFA invest money in academies within these countries and therefore, within that country itself, you give the children a good chance to develop their skills, to get an education, and if they get to go for trials in Europe, great, but if not, they have some roots within their home countries.”
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