So the FIFA ban on Chelsea has let the genie out of the bottle and it will be almost impossible to put it back in. Why? Because the whole matter is far from being as straightforward as many pundits pretend it is.
FIFA has certain regulations with regards to the transfer of minors who are under contract, Chelsea were found guilty of breaking those regulations so the punishment had to be meted out.
The problem with that simplistic argument is that it’s not so simple! The bottom line appears to be the interpretation of employment laws and who has the right to uphold them.
FIFA for example recognises pre contract agreements signed by minors to be just as binding as full contracts signed by adults.
French employment laws however does not allow minors to be professionally contracted to clubs. Can a 14-year-old sign a legally binding document when French law doesn’t allow employment contracts for youngsters under 17?
Kakuta is not the victim of player trafficking or exploitation by unscrupulous agents here – he and his parents wished to sign for Chelsea, for financial reasons and presumably footballing ones.
The question therefore must revolve around who has the legal right to enforce these regulations. Without professing to have any legal qualifications the answer appears to be clearcut to me. Unless FIFA is prepared to back down, the whole matter seems certain to be headed for the law courts in another Bosman type challenge.
Italian clubs on the other hand are prohibited from using these types of pre contract agreements for minors which meant that youngsters like Federico Macheda was able to move from Lazio to Manchester United without any restrictions from FIFA.
That may appear harsh on Lazio who had spent money on developing his talent but PLEASE, put yourself in the shoes of Macheda and his parents for a moment.
Reports have indicated that the financially struggling family was even finding it difficult to pay for the transport costs to attend training. Requests for the club to assist were reported to have been refused so when United came in offering a fairly lucrative contract what would have anyone been tempted to do? What would you have been tempted to do? What would I have certainly done in the same position?
Why should talented kids and their struggling families not grab an opportunity which has led to a contract of 20,000 pounds a week for Macheda?
I still remember a kid by the name of Kanu at the Under 17 FIFA World Cup in 1993 where he was voted Player of the Tournament. Before he even had a chance to return to Nigeria he was contracted by Ajax then moved on to Inter Milan where he was diagnosed with a heart problem.
Had the new FIFA regulation of banning transfers for players under the age of 18 been in place then, Kanu may not have had the means to get the treatment for his condition which possibly saved his life.
So where does all this leave Chelsea and other clubs which could possibly include Manchester United? If FIFA’s recognition of pre contract agreements is found to be illegal in a court of law, then the whole issue becomes irrelevant.
The only question will then become what action should be taken against clubs who tap up contracted adult players? Perhaps that’s another question for another time.
Suffice to say that headhunting is a huge business in all other industries without the slightest whiff of illegality! Is this another example of one rule for FIFA and another for everyone else?