- Chelsea FC has been punished by FIFA for breaching regulations on youth player signings.
- The club will now be prevented from signing new players in the next two transfer windows, adding one more problem to a club experiencing many.
- The team’s top player Eden Hazard is linked with a big-money move to Real Madrid, the squad is ageing, and results are simply not going Chelsea’s way.
- Chelsea also has a manager who insists on failing tactics and has an absent owner who is yet to attend a home game this season.
- Chelsea, a once-great club, is going backwards.
- Read all of Business Insider’s coverage for the 2018-2019 European soccer season right here.
Chelsea FC has been slapped with a two-window transfer ban but it’s just one of many massive problems at a once-great soccer club that is going backwards.
FIFA, the international governing body for soccer, confirmed on Friday that the Premier League club was found to have broken rules regarding “the international transfer and registration of players under the age of 18.”
Sky Sports News reports that the sanctions “are a result of a three-year investigation” with one of the more contentious signings being the acquisition of Bertrand Traore in 2013, who was 18 at the time. The BBC said Chelsea failed to register Traore until January, 2014.
FIFA found breaches in 29 cases of youth player signings and has been fined $US600,000 as a result. The greater punishment, though, is being handcuffed in the upcoming transfer markets and not being allowed to recruit any players until the 2020 summer transfer window.
The club has since published a statement on its official website, reading:“Chelsea categorically refutes the findings of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee and will therefore be appealing the decision.”
It appealed a decision before. In 2009, Chelsea was adjudged to have illegally purchased the youth player Gael Kakuta two years prior. FIFA hit the London club with a two-year ban, but Chelsea appealed, successfully, and the ban was reduced.
Regardless of whether Chelsea is as successful in reducing its current ban, the club continues to be struck with one problem after another.
Chelsea was a once-great soccer club
Even before the Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea in 2003, the club was still a reasonably successful cup team.
However, Abramovich’s presence elevated the club’s stature significantly. In the last 15 years, Chelsea has won five Premier League titles, five FA Cup trophies, three League Cups, and witnessed wild success in Europe having won the 2012 UEFA Champions League title and the 2013 UEFA Europa League.
Some of the best players in the club’s entire history represented the Blues in that silver-laden era, with Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard, John Terry, Ashley Cole, and Claude Makelele wowing crowds up and down the country on a regular basis.
It is a far cry from what the club is going through now, as it got dumped out of the FA Cup fifth round by Manchester United earlier this month and is struggling in sixth place in the Premier League.
But results are not the only thing failing to go the club’s way. This is because Chelsea has an ageing squad and so a transfer ban, regardless of whether that is for two windows or gets reduced, would have a massive impact.
Willian and Pedro are the wrong side of 30; the club’s star player Eden Hazard continues to be linked with a big-money move to Real Madrid and could be free to leave as FIFA’s ban only applies to signings, not sales; and the recent loan recruit Gonzalo Higuain will return to Juventus in the summer, which leaves a dearth of quality in the striking department.
Chelsea also has a coach in Maurizio Sarri who has so far proven unpopular with fans thanks to his insistence on attempting to utilise a style of soccer dubbed Sarri-ball. Though the system worked at the start of the season, with Chelsea unbeaten in its first dozen matches, things quickly went downhill and it has failed to yield the elite results that supporters of the team have been used to in seasons past.
In short, Sarri-ball attempts to use meticulous player positioning, triangle formations, and one-touch soccer which sees passes funnel through the team from the goalkeeper and defence, through to midfield and attack, with very few long balls used.
When it’s done right, like when Sarri was at his former club Napoli, it can – and frequently did – look captivating. But it can go dreadfully wrong, like when Chelsea defenders lose the ball at the back and surrender possession to the opposition attack.
One of the most damning statistics that indicate Sarri’s method is failing is that only 18.5% of the team’s “10+ pass sequence” lead to a shot, or a touch, in the opposition box. This is bettered by nine other Premier League teams, including Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal, and Manchester City.
But when pressed on whether he will adapt Sarri-ball, or ditch it entirely, the 60-year-old Italian remained resolute. “I don’t think so, personally,” he recently said, according to Sky Sports. “I’d like to see this football played in the right way, and then we can change.”
Chelsea also has an absent owner
Roman Abramovich often used to be seen in the stands of Chelsea matches, and has even been seen on video celebrating with players in the locker room.
But the billionaire’s interest has waned significantly this season. In fact, Sarri has said he’s hardly ever heard from him. “If the president calls, I’ll be happy, seeing as I never hear from him,” he said, according to Goal.com.
The Guardian also reports that “Abramovich has not attended a game this season, having withdrawn his application for a UK visa last year,” and there is no indication that he intends on visiting Stamford Bridge any time soon.
With an absent owner, a coach stubbornly continuing with failing tactics, and an ageing squad, a two-window transfer ban presents Chelsea with one more problem it must attempt to solve. But judging from the club’s recent history, things may well get worse before they can get better.
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