As of right now, Barcelona cannot sign any players in the 2015 calendar year.
It goes like this: A while back, Barca got caught signing some youth players illegally. (Or, as Barcelona calls it, administrative errors.) FIFA has a lot of rules about the transfers of minors, partially to avoid kids’ lives getting ruined and partly to circumvent local child labor laws.
The initial ban on buying players came from the FIFA Disciplinary Commission. Barca took the issue to the FIFA Appeals Commission, which pretty much said, “Ha, ha, STFU.” So Barca went to the Court of Arbitration for Sports, who laughed and said “No.”
All that legal paperwork did, at least, manage to push the dates of the ban back, giving Barcelona time to buy seven players this summer.
And if Thomas Vermaelen ever uninjures himself, those signings will turn out pretty handy over the next year. But the CAS has spoken. The transfer ban (through the 2015 January and summer windows), fine of 450,000 Swiss francs (about $455,000) and general tut-tut tone have all been upheld.
Barcelona released a fun statement saying the punishment is “completely disproportionate.” It starts like this:
“FC Barcelona wishes to state, with all due respect for the sports authorities, that it totally disagrees with the verdict of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) announced today …”
When someone starts with a “with all due respect” you know hawt fiya is coming. The crux of Barca’s argument is:
“… how the club has acted throughout its history, setting an example around the world for the way its young footballers are schooled and educated, and the work that is done on their development. FC Barcelona’s youth structure has enabled hundreds of young players to achieve their dreams and receive a decent upbringing.”
Essentially: Barcelona is really good at developing soccer players from a young age (this is true) so should be given a bye on this particular rule (which is not true).
Anyway, Barcelona wants to appeal to the Swiss Federal Courts, so you might see yet another version of this story again in a few months.