FIFA, Chelsea & Gael Kakuta

That the football community in Britain has responded with such surprise the two transfer window ban that FIFA have slapped upon Chelsea is, in itself, quite telling. It has long been the suspicion of many that the biggest clubs have been getting away with this sort of thing for years, but it is difficult to say whether this particular ruling has drawn so much attention because of its apparent harshness (unless Chelsea win an appeal, they will be unable to sign any new players from other clubs until January 2012, while Gael Kakuta himself has been banned from playing for four months) or because we are so used to big clubs acting in the way that Chelsea have that we have simply become resigned to the inevitability of it all. It is important to distinguish, first of all, what Chelsea did wrong here that was different to the usual “tapping up” of players by clubs. The best way to do this is probably to compare and contrast the Gael Kakuta case with what looks on the surface like a similar case, that of Federico Macheda, who left Lazio for Manchester United at the age of sixteen. The fundamental difference between these two cases is the employment law in the countries concerned. In Italy, it is illegal for a player to be signed under contract until the age of eighteen...

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