Chelsea free to buy Ribery in summer after CAS overturn ban

It is business as usual in football – after all the bluster of the initial ban against Chelsea, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) overturned the ban amidst a curious settlement reached between Chelsea and Lens.

The official CAS statement reads:

“The CAS has noted that, in the agreement, the two clubs and the player have recognised that the contract between the two clubs and the player was not valid. Accordingly, the player could not have terminated it prematurely and without just cause.”

This is a diplomatic way of saying that Lens accepted a payment from Chelsea instead of dragging the matter any further since the player had no intention of going back. What payment, you say? Here’s Bruce Buck, the Chelsea chairman:

“In an act of good faith and with a view to the possibility of future collaboration with Lens, and without recognising any liability, Chelsea has agreed to pay compensation costs for the training given to the player while at Lens, as mandated by Fifa in its original ruling.”

This compensation would amount to the €910,000 fine that FIFA initially imposed on Chelsea / Kakuta over the affair.

The whole affair is a perfect example of how FIFA, and footballing authorities in general, care more about appearances than actually making a difference in how football is being run.

FIFA and Lens got a lot of mileage from the ban and the accusations of wrong-doing against Chelsea, but Chelsea knew that legally, they would always get away with it. Lens knew this as well, and used the situation to their advantage to gain compensation for a move they might never have seen a penny for otherwise.

FIFA…well, FIFA being FIFA, showed themselves as ‘protectors’ of football but failed to meaningfully ‘toughen up’ on football transfers. They got the press coverage they wanted, and once the furore had died (and pointedly, once the January transfer window was over), it was to everyone’s interest that the decision would be announced without much fanfare.

Chelsea obviously knew the outcome before the January transfer window had even started – why spend money in January when you know you’re going to be free to spend freely in the summer?

Well played FIFA, and well played Chelsea and Lens. A farce of the highest order that made Lens a bit richer, Chelsea able to sign anyone they want in the summer (I hear they’re lining up moves for Franck Ribery, Dani Alves and David Villa, but aren’t they always?) and FIFA get to keep face without actually doing anything.

Football? Wait, were they supposed to care about it in the first place?

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