Over a year without any incoming big money transfers. This is the punishment that has been dished out to Chelsea Football Club for tapping up Lens youngster Gael Kakuta. Abramovich must have almost choked on his caviar when the FIFA ban was made public. In the modern game, for a team at the top of its domestic league to lose the ability to make signings is as good as a points deduction for two seasons.
Chelsea have already come out and said that they will appeal the decision vigorously. Therefore the question is raised; Should the punishment be this harsh on Chelsea? The answer in my opinion is yes but with a big BUT attached.
Lets be honest however nice it is to see a cash rich club such as Chelsea suffer a bit, surely it is a big wrong to single them out. I am certain that almost every other major club in England has been guilty of tapping up young players in one way or another. There is evidence of it as well. Peter Storrie the Chief Executive of Portsmouth Football Club has gone on record saying that "all managers tap players up" and he should know having worked with Harry Redknapp who has openly admitted that he see's nothing wrong with it. It happens abroad too, Alexander Hleb then of Arsenal was tapped up by Inter Milan just a day before a Champions League game in Milan. Manchester United were recently accused of stealing young 16 year old Paul Pogba from Le Havre which also proves Chelsea are not the only ones tapping up players under the age of 18.
So what should have been done? It would have made more sense to explain to clubs that a deadline would be made before the transfer window. After this deadline the rules regarding tapping up would be enforced strictly with a punishment of 'no transfers' being given to clubs that broke the rules. As it is now it just looks like Chelsea are being made an example of and that is unfair.
The other issue in all this is the age of the player involved and the ban he himself has received. First of all to give this young player a ban of 4 months is stupid beyond belief! Since joining Chelsea he played well for the juniors and reserves but has since broken his ankle. This young player is the victim here not the villain. On the issue of his age Michel Platini has unusually come up with a half decent idea. He has had plans rubber stamped to ban all transfers involving players under the age of 18. This would put a stop to the vulgar offering of money to parents for the services of their child. It would also mean that the academies that produce these young stars would justly benefit from their youth academies success.
In short FIFA has the correct intentions on this issue, but they may well end up with egg on their face when Chelsea appeal and have their punishment hugely reduced.