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Josep Maria Bartomeu was speaking in the Ricard Maxenchs pressroom / PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB

Josep Maria Bartomeu has spoken about how unhappy the club is with thesanction imposed by the FIFA Disciplinary Commission for violations of its regulations on the transfer and registration of players aged under 18. “We are annoyed because we feel we are the victims of a gross injustice”, he told a press conference this evening. "It is an excessive measure."

The president insists that “the Masia is not to be touched … it is a model that made us world leaders in football for the last ten years.” He pointed out that youth system has produced some fine home-grown talent over the years, including Leo Messi, Xavi Hernández and Andrés Iniesta, “who have received awards from FIFA itself”.

No change to plans

Bartomeu went on to explain that in collaboration with the Spanish Football Federation, the Club will be presenting an appeal to FIFA. “We have ten days to put together an appeal, but before that we shall be informing the Appeals Commission of our intention to appeal within the first three days” he explained. The club will request a suspended sentence, and if this is accepted, then the sanction will not become effective until the appeal is resolved, and only if it is ratified. "If we have to, we’ll go to the TAS", he said, referring to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, going on to say how proud he is of the Barça youth system, which is currently working with 278 children of 18 different nationalities. Convinced that the appeal will be successful, the president insisted that the club “will not be changing our plans for next season.”

He also stated that “FC Barcelona is completely committed to the protection of minors” and has nothing but respect for the FIFA’s regulations on the status and transfer of players. “Minors must be protected and safeguarded against being used as commodities by unscrupulous people who are not concerned about what is best for their future, and only want to make financial gains. But that is not the case with Barça.”

Relations with FIFA

Bartomeu explained that the FIFA sanction was drafted on November 8, 2013 but that the club was not told about it until Wednesday April 2. “We have continued having relations with FIFA since November. After deciding on the sanction, they continued asking for information about young players” he said. “Through our legal services, we shall fight to the end against this punishment”.

The president ended by saying that he has yet to talk to FIFA president FIFA, Joseph Blatter. “I will speak to Blatter, but he’s travelling at the moment” he said. “We still have to speak on the phone, although I have spoken to the Secretary General of FIFA and he also agrees that the measure is excessive … we have enough reason and ideas for this sanction to be withdrawn.”

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Bartomeu defends model in Marrakesh

In December 2013, when he was still vice-president, Josep Maria Bartomeu was in Marrakesh on occasion of the FIFA World Clubs Cup, where he was asked to defend Barça’s youth system. "The best way to protect minors is to guarantee their access to opportunities in life" he said that day, when he commented that there was a need to find a solution for this issue.

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