Real Madrid have confirmed that a transfer ban imposed on the club by football governing body FIFA has been cut in half as the result of an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), meaning the club will now be eligible to register new players in the summer transfer window.

FIFA had initially imposed a two window registration ban on the European champions after they were said to have breached the governing body’s rules over the signing of overseas players under 18.  That ban would have seen the club unable to register new players for the duration of 2017.  After taking their case to the judicial body in Switzerland the Spanish giants will now only be prevented from making additions to their squad in the January transfer window.

FIFA rules place strict conditions on clubs wishing to sign foreign players under the age of 18. And in January 2016 Real and city rivals Atletico were both said to have breached the rules and banned from registering players for two transfer windows.  Both clubs appealed the decision, allowing them to recruit new players in the summer of 2016 whilst the appeal was heard.  In September FIFA announced that it would be upholding the two window ban placed on both clubs.

However, both clubs took their case to the CAS.  And this week the legal body partially accepted Real Madrid’s appeal, reducing the transfer ban by half and cutting the 360,000 Swiss franc fine given to the the club to 240,000 Swiss francs.  A club statement said “The decision highlights the injustice of the original ban imposed by FIFA’.  The club had hoped the ban would be overturned entirely though, adding, ‘the club regrets that the CAS lacked the courage to revoke the ruling entirely”.

Rivals Atletico Madrid are still awaiting news of their own appeal.  In 2014 the CAS dismissed a similar appeal from Barcelona after they were handed a 14 month transfer ban by FIFA having also been found guilty of breaching the rules relating to the signing of foreign players under 18.

With the transfer ban lifted in time for the opening of the summer window club President Florentino Perez is expected to pursue yet another marquee signing, with Borussia Dortmund forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang reported to head the list of potential targets. A revived bid to land Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea, whom the club came close to signing in 2015, may also be considered.

The off-field boost came just days after ‘Los Blancos’ had continued their reign of on-field success, having been crowned Club World Champions following an extra-time victory over Japanese side Kashima Antlers in Yokohama.  That victory followed further good news for the club with it announced that forward Cristiano Ronaldo had won the Ballon D’Or award having been voted the world’s best player.  It was the fourth time the Portugal captain has claimed the prize.

“2016 has been a year that we Madridistas will never forget” said Perez.  “I particularly want to mention the recent winner of the Ballon D’Or Cristiano Ronaldo.  He is already a Real Madrid legend.”

Alistair Sargent, Correspondent (Sport)