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September 5, 2009

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FIFA fires warning shot at big clubs with Blues transfer ban

FIFA'S transfer ban on Chelsea over their signing of Racing Lens teenager Gael Kakuta is a warning to soccer's biggest clubs, leading sports lawyers said on Thursday.

Chelsea said they would mount the "strongest possible appeal" after soccer's world governing body banned the Premier League club from registering new signings until 2011.

FIFA found Chelsea guilty of inducing Kakuta, now 18, to break his contract with the French club in 2007.

"The FIFA regulatory regime is there to ensure contractual stability so clubs can plan their seasons (and) their squads...

"This is an example of FIFA showing just how important it views the regulations," said Dan Harrington of sports business law firm Couchman Harrington Associates.

"The ramifications at the club are potentially huge, not being able to sign anyone until 2011 which could have huge implications for a club of Chelsea's size and stature," he told the BBC.

The west London club were fined in 2005 by the Premier League for tapping up Arsenal fullback Ashley Cole and that case may have been a factor in FIFA's punishment, said Adam Morallee of London law firm Mishcon de Reya.

"With Ashley Cole it was 300,000 pounds (US$489,500) but... it didn't matter," Morallee said, referring to what is a relatively small sum for a club backed by billionaire Roman Abramovich.

"This does matter. It's a case of a governing body laying down a punishment that actually affects a big club. They (Chelsea) only care about points deductions and not being able to do deals.

"Maybe this is a move by governing bodies to say that if you break the rules you will get slammed by a massive punishment.

Acted improperly

Meanwhile, Manchester United insists they have nothing to fear over Le Havre's claims they acted improperly when they signed French teenager Paul Pogba last month.

Le Havre has confirmed they will ask world governing body FIFA to investigate the case of Pogba, who they claim had agreed to join them, only to leave for United.

A United spokesman said yesterday: "As far as we are concerned, we have acted within the regulations of both UEFA and FIFA in the transfer.

"We have nothing to fear as we have done nothing wrong. We know Le Havre are not very happy with us, but we have acted correctly."

However, Le Havre managing director Alain Belsoeur claims he has evidence proving United offered inducements for 16-year-old Pogba to join them and will include it in submissions to the world's governing body.

"We are still pursuing our case (with FIFA)," he was quoted as saying in The Times. "It is a very serious case. We are confident that we will win because it is in the best interests not just of our club, but of the sport."


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