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Volume 10 No. 25

Franchises

Chelsea is "under investigation for the third time in eight years over a potential breach" of FIFA regulations on youth players, according to Ben Rumsby of the London TELEGRAPH. The governing body confirmed on Tuesday that it "launched an inquiry into the club’s conduct involving signing foreigners under the age of 18." Chelsea overturned a transfer ban imposed in '09 over its '07 recruitment of Gaël Kakuta from Spanish side Lens, while the club was investigated last year over "Bertrand Traoré's move to Stamford Bridge after pictures emerged of the midfielder" playing for Chelsea before he had int'l clearance (TELEGRAPH, 9/20). In London, Jack Austin reported Chelsea insisted it has "fully complied" with FIFA's rules and regulations. Responding to the reports, a Chelsea spokesperson said, "Chelsea FC complies with all FIFA Statutes and Regulations when recruiting players." Atlético Madrid and Real Madrid "were both banned from signing players for similar reasons" in recent seasons. While Real Madrid had its ban overturned, Atlético still cannot "register new players until January." Chelsea's case "is not thought to be as serious as those of the two Spanish clubs" (INDEPENDENT, 9/20). REUTERS' Alan Baldwin reported FIFA rules prohibit the int'l transfer of players under the age of 18 "unless their parents have emigrated for reasons not connected to football" or both the player and club are based within 50km of a national border. The "only other exception" is for transfers within either the European Union or European Economic Area, where the minimum age is 16. In those cases, "clubs must still ensure that the player continues his education and studies for an alternative career," as well as making sure he has a "high living standard" (REUTERS, 9/20).

Barcelona released a statement "following what took place in Catalonia, where Spain's Civil Guard on Wednesday detained 14 Catalan officials" involved in organizing an independence vote, according to MUNDO DEPORTIVO. The club said in the statement that it "condemns any action that impedes the exercising of rights like democracy, freedom of expression and the right to decide." The statement said, "Barcelona publicly expresses its support to all people, entities and institutions that work to guarantee these rights" (MUNDO DEPORTIVO, 9/20). The BBC reported thousands of Catalans "took to the streets in protest and the regional leader complained of a power grab" following the arrests of the Catalan officials. Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy said that the state "had been forced to act." Catalonia's separatist government "is defying a Constitutional Court order" to halt the planned Oct. 1 vote, "which has been condemned by the Madrid government as illegal." Wednesday's operation targeting more than 20 ministries and institutions "was a dramatic intensification" of Spain's attempt to stop the vote from taking place (BBC, 9/20).

Premiership Rugby club Worcester Warriors confirmed it is "seeking new investment" following reports of a "potential takeover" at Sixways Holdings, which has owned the club since '13. The club has reportedly received an offer. But Warriors' "only response" to various media rumors has been to issue a statement to season ticket holders from Managing Dir Gus Mackay. He said, "Any proposed funding structure has to be in our best interests" (BBC, 9/20).

Bundesliga side Hoffenheim signed a 10-year partnership with China League One club Meizhou Hakka. The two parties will set up a professional football school in Wuhua County, in the eastern Chinese province of Guangdong. The "local government will be responsible for the construction project" that is scheduled to be completed in '19, while Hoffenheim will "oversee a tailored plan" for the center's youth training, foreign coaching and scouting (SOCCEREX, 9/20).