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Big blow for Barcelona

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Fifa has slapped a 14-month transfer ban on Barcelona for breaking rules relating to the transfer of under-18 players that are designed to protect them from exploitation.   The Catalan club has also been fined, along with the Spanish football federation.

The club's squeaky clean image had already been damaged earlier in the year by allegations of tax evasion surrounding the transfer of Neymar.   The then president resigned, but his successor may now face demands for new presidential elections.

Quite what a change of personnel would solve is unclear.   The club is widely admired, but perhaps its playing success has led to an arrogance which leads it to believe that it can be cavalier with the rules.

Barcelona is expected to appeal against the decision to the Court for the Arbitration of Sport in Lausanne and to ask for a stay of execution in the meantime.   Without that its plans for reinvigorating the squad would be seriously affected.