This Argentine Club Is Taking Manchester City & FIFA to Court Over Transfer of 16-Year-Old

Lead Photo: Photo is licensed under the CC BY 2.0 license.
Photo is licensed under the CC BY 2.0 license.
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The increasingly murky waters of the youth transfer market have bubbled up once more. On July 3rd, Argentine club Velez Sarsfield will have its day in the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) against both Manchester City and FIFA over the transfer of 16-year-old Argentina national Benjamín Garré.

Garré joined City last July, just after his 16th birthday; that timing is important, because Velez is arguing that City broke the rule put in place to prevent transfers of international–meaning outside of the European Union–players under the age of 18. That FIFA rule was ostensibly put in place to protect the young soccer players from being uprooted to a new country before they were ready. 

It appears, however, that the Premier League club found a loophole with regards to the signing. City said that Garré was in possession of an Italian passport, allowing him to register with the English Football Association and FIFA, as they allow movement within the EU as long as the player holds a passport from a member country. Back in September, FIFA said that there was “no element justifying the opening of disciplinary proceedings against Manchester City.”

Velez’s President, Raul Gamez, is claiming that this ruling forgoes a bigger issue regarding the transfers of young football players. “What is most important in these cases is the formation and development of the child, in a supportive environment, above economic or strictly sports interests.” Gamez continued, “It is crazy to think that our youngsters can find themselves in a situation of vulnerability or abuse in a foreign country, without their family or somebody to protect them.”

Garré is merely the newest young futbolero to be involved in controversy. Most recently, 16-year-old Brazilian attacker Vinicius Junior was in the news after his $50 million move to Real Madrid. Real looked to secure Vinicius’s transfer before their rivals could. The current Flamengo attacker won’t even don the merengues colors until he’s 18 in 2019–all in order to not run afoul of the very same FIFA regulation that Velez is challenging.

Real Madrid knows that regulation well, as they–along with Atletico Madrid–are facing transfer bans over irregular youth player transfers; Barcelona also served a full-year ban recently for the same violation, which could be in Manchester City’s future if the appeal does not go their way.