By TALES AZZONI, AP Sports Writer
MADRID (AP) — FIFA banned Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid on Thursday from signing players in the next two transfer windows for breaching rules relating to registering players under the age of 18.
The Spanish clubs can still sign players in the current transfer window but will be banned from making additions to their squads until after the 2016-17 season. The teams can reach agreements to buy players but cannot register them to play until then.
Atletico Madrid released a brief statement saying it will appeal FIFA’s sanction.
“Our club does not agree with the sanctioning ruling from the international football body and is studying the documentation received to lodge an appeal,” it said.
Real Madrid had not officially commented about FIFA’s ban on Thursday. Last year, the club called reports of a possible ban “false” and said it had “always scrupulously adhered to the FIFA regulations.” It also mentioned “its absolute commitment to the defense, protection and the correct and healthy development of minors.”
Madrid was not negotiating any new signings but the ban could force president Florentino Perez to scramble to bring in new players. Atletico Madrid, the Spanish league leader, also was not working to add any players to its squad in this window. Both clubs may negotiate deals to bring back players that were on loan to other clubs. The teams can also sell players if wanted.
Barcelona served a similar sanction for 2015 after stalling the transfer ban to enable them to sign players in the 2014 window, including Luis Suarez, Ivan Rakitic and Claudio Bravo. The Catalan club signed players such as Arda Turan and Aleix Vidal after the ban took effect again, but couldn’t register them until this month.
FIFA said the latest wave of punishments — which include fines of 900,000 Swiss francs ($900,000) for Atletico and 360,000 Swiss francs ($360,000) for Real Madrid — highlight the success of efforts to protect the rights of players.
The players at the heart of Madrid cases featured in games between 2005 and 2014, according to FIFA.
“The two clubs were found to have violated several provisions concerning the international transfer and first registration of minor players as well as other relevant provisions with regard to the registration and participation of certain players in competitions,” FIFA said in a statement.
This story has been corrected to show that players in the Madrid cases played between 2005 and 2014, not 2007 and 2014.
AP Sports Writer Rob Harris in London contributed to this report.
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