BARCELONA (Reuters) – Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu believes FIFA regulations concerning under-age player transfers needs to be revised and that current rules would have prevented Lionel Messi from joining the club.
The Catalan side have been banned from signing players during this transfer window and the next one for breaking the rules over the signing of foreign under-18 players.
The ban is a major blow for Barca, who have been held up as an example for their development of youth players through their celebrated Masia academy, where they nurtured the talent of Argentine-born Messi after he arrived at the club aged 13.
Bartomeu is angry at the way they have been treated.
“The problem is with FIFA and they need to change this article 19 (over the transfer of youth players) as it doesn’t make any sense,” the president told Spanish radio.
“Leo Messi couldn’t have come to Barca according to FIFA. FIFA have a problem and they can’t have a rule which so many kids are not complying with. At the moment, it is Barca who are paying for five kids.
“Barca have suffered injustices in the past and this is another example.
A failed appeal against the transfer ban last December plunged the Barca board into crisis, playing a part in the firing of sports director Andoni Zubizarreta and Bartomeu’s decision to bring forward presidential elections.
“If there wasn’t so much tension, then I wouldn’t have called the elections,” Bartomeu said of the vote taking place at the end of this season.
“I wanted to complete our mandate and the club is functioning reasonably well but I think it was the right thing to do.”