Things should be good for Chelsea fans as the EPL season opens. Four games in, Chelsea are undefeated and tied for the top of the league with, of all squads, Spurs. That’s an issue for another time, anyway.
But for as well as the team is performing, they’d better be happy with the players they’ve already got. That’s according to FIFA’s “dispute resolution chamber,” which sounds like a euphemism for a room in Abu Ghraib; the international soccer federation just banned the team from signing any new players for two whole years after illegally signing a player in 2007.
Per THE GUARDIAN, Chelsea’s penalty is swift and severe, which probably means appeals ahoy:
Fifa’s dispute resolution chamber today released a statement fining Gaël Kakuta €780,000 following a complaint from RC Lens and finding Chelsea “jointly and severally liable”.
“A restriction of four months on his eligibility to play in official matches is imposed on the player Gaël Kakuta while the club FC Chelsea is banned from registering any new players, either nationally or internationally, for the two next entire and consecutive registration periods following the notification of the present decision,” the DRC statement said. “Furthermore, the club, FC Chelsea, has to pay to RC Lens training compensation in the amount of €130,000.”
Tonight, the London club issued a statement which read: “Chelsea will mount the strongest appeal possible following the decision. The sanctions are without precedent to this level and totally disproportionate to the alleged offence and the financial penalty imposed. We cannot comment further until we receive the full written rationale for this extraordinarily arbitrary decision.”
Kakuta, in case you hadn’t guessed, is the player shown above and one of Chelsea’s bright young prospects. He also belonged to the French club RC Lens, which means Chelsea’s efforts to sign him were strictly verboten.
As you can tell from FIFA’s wording (and give Europeans this: their elocution in official statements means there’s zip-zero ambiguity about the written ass-kicking they’re delivering), this malfeasance means Chelsea can’t sign anybody during the transfer window, a penalty softened only by the fact that they’ve got developmental teams from which to draw talent.
As for an American corollary, think of the smackdown the NBA put on the Timberwolves after that Kevin McHale/Joe Smith idiocy that cost Minnesota three first-round picks. The T-Wolves could still sign free agents, and the penalty still doomed Kevin Garnett to a career on the fringes of relevance and attention until Boston finally rescued him from the hinterlands.
But our statement earlier wasn’t (entirely) in jest; we actually do hope the illegal transfer was worth it. After all, Kakuta can ball, man…
… and the transfer ban will probably be reduced and/or postponed, if the legacy of appeals in FIFA holds true once more. Well, okay, “hope it was worth it” isn’t the right sentiment, but we do hope Chelsea considered the penalties when pursuing Kakuta and continued anyway. In this age of easily verifiable and reproducible communication, such misbehavior will rarely go uncaught.