Chelsea are under the scanner for their apparent breach of FIFA regulations over the recruitment of Burkina Faso international Bertrand Traore, but the club have made it clear the transfer was in compliance with the existing rules.
Traore, 20, was signed by the Blues in a professional capacity in January 2014. He had been at Auxerre’s youth academy before signing for Chelsea after his 18th birthday. Chelsea had an “option agreement” with Traore that the club believe allowed the prospect to feature in non-competitive games.
Traore came under the spotlight after impressing in the 2009 FIFA Under-17 World Cup as a 14-year-old. Burkina Faso’s sports minister Jean-Pierre Palm announced in August 2010 that Traore would sign for Chelsea. He was later seen playing in an under-18s game against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium in October 2011 as a 16-year-old, a game deemed to be “non-competitive” by both clubs.
According to FIFA regulations, international transfers are permitted for players under the age of 18 only if the player in question meets one of three qualifying criteria: if the player’s parents move to a new country for non-football reasons; if they are from another nation within the European Union or European Economic Area and aged between 16 and 18; or if they live within 100km of the club.
According to the aforementioned criteria, it is unclear whether Traore met the first one, and the fact Chelsea played him in a game as a minor has put the club under scrutiny, A Chelsea spokesman has stressed the transfer was approved by the competent authority, saying: “Bertrand Traoré was registered by Chelsea in January 2014 in compliance with FA and Premier League Rules.
“Prior to that date, he was party to an option agreement which enabled the club to acquire his registration in January 2014. The option agreement was registered with, and approved by, both the FA and the Premier League.”
Spanish giants Barcelona served a transfer embargo last year for a similar offence and Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid are the latest clubs to be handed transfer bans following their breaches of FIFA rules on the international transfer of minors. With the biggest clubs facing sanctions, it is clear Chelsea will find themselves in a similar position should they be found guilty.
However, FIFA has not confirmed whether it is investigating Chelsea over Traore, choosing to not comment on the case. “We are not in a position to comment on any investigations that are ongoing so as not to compromise the process, nor do we provide any comments as to whether or not any investigations are under way,” said a spokesperson.
Traore is currently on the fringes of Chelsea’s first team squad and is set to move out on loan in the January transfer window. He has only played four times for the reigning Premier League champions and has 15 caps for Burkina Faso.