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FIFA bans Barcelona from signing new players after rule violations

World football's governing body, FIFA, has imposed a 14-month transfer ban on Barcelona. The ban could impact on the club's reported plans to bring in Gladbach's German goalie Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

FIFA's disciplinary committee found the side breached rules "relating to the international transfer and registration of players under the age of 18."

"Barcelona has been found to be in breach of…the regulations in the case of 10 minor players and to have committed several other concurrent infringements in the context of other players," FIFA announced in a statement.

Later on Wednesday, Barcelona confirmed in an official statement that it would appeal the ruling, as expected.

"FC Barcelona will present an appeal to FIFA and if need be will take the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport," the club said on its website.

Many major clubs seek to bring in teenage talent from far and wide early in their career - with Barcelona a particularly prolific example of this. Argentine striker and multiple FIFA Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi, for instance, joined the club aged 13 in 2000.

Marc-Andre ter Stegen with football in hand

FIFA's ban may affect the plans of German goalie Marc-Andre ter Stegen

Barcelona will be fined 450,000 Swiss francs ($509,000, 369,027 euros) and banned from signing any players for two complete and consecutive transfer periods, the statement read. The ban - effectively in place until the end of next season - applies only to incoming transfers, Barcelona retain the ability to sell players during both transfer periods.

Ter Stegen questions raised

Barcelona's veteran goalkeeper Victor Valdes plans to leave the club when his contract expires at the end of the season. The Catalans were therefore expected to bring in reinforcements - with Borussia Mönchengladbach youngster Marc-Andre ter Stegen considered the prime candidate. Ter Stegen had already confirmed his intention to leave Gladbach in the summer.

Rene vom Bruch, managing director of ter Stegen's management Coaches & More told the German dpa news agency that Wednesday's news "is a matter for Barcelona."

The 21-year-old German international, meanwhile, was quoted on the Internet portal of daily newspaper Express as saying: "I have heard nothing about it. I don't want to say anything. One fact is that I will definitely leave Borussia in the summer."

Ter Stegen is yet to publicly state which club he intends to join, despite being frequently linked with Barcelona. According to a report from the dpa news agency, FIFA later clarified that Barcelona will still be able to bring in players this summer, if they signed a contract with them prior to the ban being imposed. Therefore, should ter Stegen have already signed on the dotted line with Barca - and neither side has said as much to date - then a deal could still go ahead.

Borussia Mönchengladbach have already arranged a replacement for ter Stegen between the posts,

lining up Swiss star Yann Sommer from FC Basel

. As a result, Gladbach's current keeper looks set to depart in the summer - even if not to Barcelona.

The FIFA committee also gave FC Barcelona 90 days "to regularize the situation of all minor players concerned," and ensure all players under the age of 18 were in compliance with FIFA regulations.

Spain's football federation (RFER) was also found guilty of regulation breaches and fined 500,000 francs. They have been given a year to change their system to meet required regulations.

msh, jlw/se (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

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