FIFA has spoken and the words are not good for powerful Barcelona. Wednesday FIFA announced a ban on new signings for the club lasting the next two transfer windows as a result of deciding that Barcelona had failed to abide by rules governing transfers of players under 18.
The investigation spanned the past year and found several violations of rules on international transfers and registering foreign players. The Spanish football federation (RFEF) was also found guily in the probe.
A FIFA statement read: "The FIFA Disciplinary Committee has sanctioned the Real Federacion Espanola de Futbol (RFEF) and Spanish club FC Barcelona for breaches relating to the international transfer and registration of players under the age of 18. The investigations concerned several minor players who were registered and participated in competitions with the club over various periods between 2009 and 2013."
In February 2013, FIFA found that Barca had regularly failed to comply with its transfer regulations and extended a ban to cover six players from Barca's Cadete and Juvenil youth teams. This meant that South Koreans Lee Seung-Woo, Jang Gyeolhee and Paik Seung-Ho, French youngster Theo Chendri, Nigerian-Dutch player Bobby Adekanye and Cameroonian Patrice Sousia were training with their teams but unable to play in competitive games.
Despite Wednesday's ruling, a Barca spokesperson has said the club do not expect the ban to come into force this summer. "We are relaxed," the spokesperson said. "It is a habitual process in which we have 90 days to explain how we signed these players. It would not be two years of sanctions. It would be two transfer windows."
El Pais reported on Wednesday that club sources have indicated that they will appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, using Chelsea's successful appeal of a ban relating to the Gael Kakuta transfer from Lens as a precedent.
If the ban goes into effect it would have a major impact on Barca keeping them from replacing Puyol and Victor Valdes or bolstering a defense that needs new blood.