FIFA are investigating Real Madrid to determine whether the club have followed the rules of Article 19 of the Regulations on the Transfer of Players, on the Protection of Minors. The rules prohibit the transfer of players under the age of 18, except in certain, determined, situations.
This newspaper has had access to FIFA’s documents initiating the investigation, classified as strictly confidential. FIFA have requested from the Spanish Football Federation all the documentation relating to under-age players who play for clubs with which Real Madrid have collaboration agreements. There are 22 such clubs in the Madrid Autonomous Region alone. The agreements Madrid signs with its feeder clubs contain a clause stating that the feeder club in question agrees to make available to Real Madrid all its football players, at every age, which Madrid can, as the club chooses, include in their own squads.
The feeder clubs also agree to provide the players’ registration documents and ensure they are registered in the name of Real Madrid.
It is possible that such agreements also exist with clubs in other countries with which Real Madrid has agreements, but that has not been confirmed as yet.
In the letter, dated 17 December, sent to the Spanish Federation, Kimberly Morris, Head of Integrity and Compliance at FIFA, asked for the information about the players to be provided before 14 January. Jorge Pérez, the Federation’s secretary general, passed the request to the clubs 48 hours later. According to sources consulted by this newspaper, Madrid’s lawyers have examined the documents sent to Zurich.
The investigation opened by FIFA coincides with a flurry of signings by Real Madrid, with Peeters, Asensio, Odegaard and Lucas Silva joining the Spanish outfit in the past weeks. The club are also looking at signing Batalla (River) and Mastour, a 16 year old of Moroccan descent, currently tied to Milan.
Barcelona were hit with a transfer ban by FIFA last April for irregularities in the signing of underage players between 2009 and 2013. Barça are unable to sign any players until 1 January 2016. The club took the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, but their appeal was rejected.
The Barcelona case came on the back of anonymous tip-offs. Pedro López Jiménez, Real Madrid’s vicepresident and member of the Player Status Commission (charged by FIFA with regulating under-age transfers) denied that Madrid had anything to do with the investigation into the Catalan club. Other sources suggest other European clubs were behind the finger-pointing at Barcelona, including three Spanish clubs.
The current investigation into Real Madrid also comes on the back of an anonymous tip-off. In FIFA’s letter demanding information from the Spanish Federation the governing body states it wishes to “establish the facts”, indicating that the process likely comes on the back of a complaint from a person or persons, who at the moment remain anonymous.