CHILDREN ARE SOMETHING YOU SELL
An arms race is going on in the football world. Increased competition in the market is forcing clubs and investors to search for even younger talents for their junior academies. FC Barcelona and Real Madrid are only the tip of the iceberg in an industry that is trading children. BY LARS ANDERSSON, TEAM TEKSTWERK Takuhiro Nakai is a happy boy. He does what he loves. Playing football. But the 11-year-old footballer is not running and kicking on the green grass back home in Japan. He’s playing at “La Fábrica” in Madrid, Spain. He’s playing for Real Madrid’s “Alavin A”. Takuhiro Nakai is a talented footballer. But he has a problem – as do many of the other 200 minors at “La Fábrica” in Madrid. They are playing football in Real Madrid in breach of Article 19 of “FIFA’s Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players” (see box, ed.). That is because Article 19 clearly states that children under the age of 18 cannot change clubs across continents. And Takuhiro Nakai’s address has changed from Japan to Spain – across continents. NO ANSWERS Sport Executive would have liked to have spoken with Señor Emilio Butragueno, the
director of institutional relations at Real Madrid, about the club’s interpretation of Article 19. But the message rang clear from Madrid: “Sorry to inform you Mr. Butragueno will not do any interview,” Marta Santisteban López, Real Madrid’s head of communications, says. “Is there anyone else in charge of Real Madrid who gives interviews?” “…,” Marta Santisteban López answers. However, Señor Butragueno did confirm in the Spanish media that the club is under investigation for being in breach of Article 19. But the director of institutional relations is “absolutely calm about the club’s behaviour”. In January 2015 FIFA also confirmed to Sport Executive that the football federation was investigating several Spanish clubs for trading minors. “FIFA is currently gathering all the relevant
information and documentation in order to be in a position to properly assess the matter. No formal disciplinary proceedings have been opened at this stage. No further information can be provided for the timebeing,” a spokesperson for FIFA, who prefers to be anonymous, said to Sport Executive back then. Three months later nothing has happened. Or, as a spokesperson in FIFA puts it: “Please understand we are not in a position to comment on any investigations that are ongoing so as not to compromise the process, nor do we provide any comments as to whether or not any investigations are underway,” the person tells Sport Executive. “Please also note that the timeframe for each disciplinary case can vary depending on the specific legal and factual elements, the cooperation of the parties involved and administrative processes of each case. It is essential that due process is followed and
Published on Apr 27, 2015
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