Chelsea have been banned from signing players for the next two transfer windows, until July 2020, after being found guilty of breaching regulations relating to the recruitment of minors.

Here, Press Association Sport looks at the pertinent questions relating to the Blues’ punishment.

What has happened?

FIFA’s disciplinary committee has imposed a two-window ban on Chelsea registering new players for breaches of regulations relating to the transfer of 29 players aged under-18. Chelsea were also fined 600,000 Swiss francs (over £460,000) and the Football Association was fined 510,000 Swiss francs (over £390,000). Chelsea also twice breached regulations relating to third-party influence, FIFA said.

What are the regulations?

FIFA regulations prohibit the international transfer of players under 18, unless in specific circumstances not related to football. Players aged over 16 are permitted to move within the European Union providing set criteria are met. The regulations are in place for safeguarding purposes to protect children.

How did this happen?

Bertrand Traore
Bertrand Traore played for Chelsea aged 16 in an apparent breach of FIFA regulations (PA)

In January 2016, the Press Association reported suspected irregularities in the recruitment by Chelsea of Bertrand Traore. Traore officially joined Chelsea on January 1, 2014, signing a four-year deal on the first day of the transfer window opening following his 18th birthday, on September 6, 2013. However, he had appeared as a trialist on the July 2013 pre-season tour and pictures emerged of him playing for Chelsea under-18s in October 2011 in an apparent breach of FIFA regulations. FIFA on Friday would not say if Traore was one of the 29 players whose signing resulted in the sanction, but it aroused suspicions which prompted the investigation.

What happens next?

Chelsea have announced their intention to contest the sanctions, which the club categorically denies. Chelsea said 63 of 92 cases did not amount to breaches and expressed disappointment at the FIFA disciplinary committee’s findings. The appeal will initially be heard by FIFA’s appeal committee, but there are further avenues for appeal, including at the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Any delay would allow Chelsea to make signings, so the depths of owner Roman Abramovich’s pockets and his commitment to the club – which sources insist is not wavering, contrary to reports – could be tested this summer. The FA also intends to appeal against the punishment.

Is there precedent for this?

Luis Suarez
Luis Suarez joined Barcelona from Liverpool only after the Catalan club appealed against a transfer ban, ultimately unsuccessfully (Nick Potts/PA)

Yes. Chelsea are by no means the only club involved. Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Barcelona have all been punished by FIFA for breaching similar regulations. Barca were unable to sign players in 2015, but contesting the ban allowed them to embark on a summer splurge in 2014. Real Madrid had their ban reduced to one winter window, so it had limited impact. Atletico served a two-window suspension.

What does this mean for Chelsea?

Callum Hudson-Odoi
Chelsea fans have been clamouring for 18-year-old winger Callum Hudson-Odoi to get more game time (Adam Davy/PA)

This could be seen as an opportunity for Chelsea, who have struggled to balance the demands of financial fair play regulations and promote players from their staggeringly successful academy. That academy success may in part be due to the nefarious activities for which the FIFA punishment has been doled out. However, there could be a blessing in disguise, allowing the Blues to temper expectations and promote young talent. The Blues can still sell players in the period of the suspension.