Real Madrid’s appeal of a FIFA-imposed two-window transfer ban for violations in the signing of foreign youth players has been successful, as the Court of Arbitration for Sport today reduced that initial penalty to a single window, citing errors in FIFA’s investigation as justification for why they reduced the sanction.
Real had petitioned the CAS to rule on the fairness of FIFA’s punishment in an expedited ruling so as to know the answer before the January transfer window opened, and the CAS was able to comply with this by releasing their decision today. Here’s the arbitrator’s initial explanation of the judgment, which will be fleshed out in a full in a written document later:
In essence, the Sole Arbitrator found that some of the rule violations alleged by FIFA could be upheld, but not all of them. Considering that the infractions committed by Real Madrid CF were less serious and less numerous than argued by the FIFA judiciary bodies, the Sole Arbitrator ruled that the sanctions imposed on Real Madrid CF had to be reduced.
As to specifics for why Real’s punishment was lightened while Barcelona’s sanction for violating these same rules was upheld a couple years ago, you have to look at the individual cases where Real were allegedly in violation of FIFA’s rules governing the movement of youth players from country to country.
Back in September, Spanish sports paper AS named eight of the kids FIFA had pointed to as evidence of Real’s rule violations. The majority of them did not seem to have actually run afoul of FIFA’s rules.
Two of the kids were sons of the team’s current first-team manager and former player Zinedine Zidane. Another was the brother of former Real defender Ezequiel Garay. One was a Romanian boy who had actually been born in Spain. Another was a boy from the Netherlands who moved to Madrid’s youth setup when he was 16, which, when dealing with kids with citizenship from a country in the EU, is allowed by the rules.
The only two cases that did seem to violate FIFA’s rules were the signings of two Venezuelan kids, whom Real quickly disassociated themselves from once they realized the boys’ signing might run counter to the rules. As the CAS’s brief summary of their decision appears to hint at, it was most likely erroneously flagged cases like those mentioned above that got Real Madrid partially off the hook.