Madrid point to Zidane's sons in their defence

FIFA have declared Real and Atlético Madrid guilty of the same misdemeanour it punished Barcelona for: signing minors in breach of conditions laid down to protect children from being uprooted from their homes. It’s a complex issue arising from unpleasant origins. Our rich world is like a magnet to kids out to make it as footballers and, over 20 years ago now, this gave rise to a quite odious practice of trafficking by more than a few unscrupulous individuals. Many youngsters have ended up selling tissues at traffic lights, or worse. And the apparition of a certain miracle named Messi only served to exacerbate the problem.

Barça were banned from registering anyone for two windows. They’ve just emerged from that tunnel – and, by the way, they didn’t do too badly while inside it. Madrid and Atlético have announced they're to appeal. Both had seen this coming, and have been signing with the future in mind for months. Keeping to the discreet modus operandi of the post-Jesús Gil Sr. era, Atleti limited themselves to a statement. Real called a press conference, this time without Florentino Pérez, by now worn out from trying to plug the leaks continually springing up in his less-than-watertight vessel: Ancelotti, Casillas, De Gea, Cheryshev, Benítez... He doesn’t have enough hands for so many holes.

So, director general José Ángel Sánchez and the head of the club’s legal services, Javier López Farré, appeared before the media. They denied the charges. They moved to dispute the punishment by noting that among the cases targeted are two of Zinedine Zidane’s sons, in whose instance clearly noone has been uprooted; however, they were unwilling to discuss the other cases out of due discretion to minors. Anyway, they’re going to appeal. I don’t know what will come of this, but maybe a year without new signings will work out well for Pérez. In this short life everything’s worth a go. After all, Barcelona didn’t fare altogether shabbily, did they?

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