Barca to appeal FIFA ban

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has described the one-year transfer ban on signing players handed down on the club as a “grave injustice” and insisted they intend to make moves in the transfer market this summer.

Football’s governing body imposed the sanction on Wednesday citing a “serious” breach of rules in the signing of 10 under-age players between 2009 and 2013.

“We are angry. We are the victims of a grave injustice. They are punishing the essence of our club, a model that has lasted 35 years,” he said.

“It brings to mind the photo with the Ballon d’Or with Xavi, (Lionel) Messi and (Andres) Iniesta. FIFA know that we look after the kids in our system.”

Barcelona’s football club president Josep Maria Bartomeu

The Catalan club have announced their intention to appeal the decision firstly before FIFA’s Appeal Committee and then, should the sanction not be overturned, to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

“We have had a meeting with our lawyers and we will make an appeal to FIFA. If FIFA continue with the sanction, we will present a new appeal to CAS and that will allow us to sign (players) for next year.

“We are not worried about next season. Our planning continues in exactly the same way. We will appeal and ask for cautionary measures.

“We believe a lot in our lawyers and they have told us we have the arguments for the sanction to be lifted.”

Bartomeu added that Barca were on the verge of signing a goalkeeper, believed to be German international Marc-Andre Ter Stegen, to replace Victor Valdes who has indicated his intention to leave the club at the end of the season and a central defender to deputise for departing club captain Carles Puyol.

The affair is the latest in a long line of unsavoury stories that have damaged Barca’s previously pristine image.

Bartomeu’s predecessor Sandro Rosell was forced to resign in January after being accused of a misappropriation of funds in the singing of Brazilian star Neymar last year.

The deal which eventually led to the club being charged with tax fraud, although they have denied any wrongdoing.

And Bartomeu believes there may be foul play behind the serious of public attacks on the club’s image.

“We have some evidence or indications to make us think that there is someone who wants to cause us harm.

“We will continue with our investigations until we find out who is behind all of this.”

Bartomeu also criticised the timing of the punishment as he claimed FIFA met to decide what sanction would be imposed on the club over four months ago on November 28 and believes other clubs could be in for a similar ban if the same rules are applied equally.

“It is clear that the situation affecting Barca will also affect other clubs, both here and in other countries.”