Feud Between Barcelona, FIFA Centers On South Korean Teenagers
A recent conflict between Spanish club FC Barcelona and FIFA over int'l transfers of young players, involving a number of Korean teenage prospects, "doubles as a splash of cold water on overzealous sports parents," according to Kim Tong-hyung of the KOREA TIMES. Barcelona "is appealing FIFA bans on six of its youth players, including 15-year-old Korean Lee Seung-woo, touted by some as the club’s most promising prospect since Argentine superstar Lionel Messi." While Barcelona’s wealth in under-aged talent includes many players scouted outside of Spain, FIFA "now accuses the club of violating its regulations on the international transfer of minors, designed to stop child trafficking and exploitation." FIFA "has been tightening control on the transfer of minors in recent years to prevent the trafficking of under-aged players, amid criticism that European football clubs were luring youngsters from Third World countries with promises of lucrative contracts, only to abandon them if they don’t pan out." Barcelona counters that "it provides quality education for its minors at its La Masia training facility and that Spanish law allows minors to live and study in the country if they are accompanied by their legal guardian" (KOREA TIMES, 3/22).