FIFA probes Real Madrid over transfers of young players

Real Madrid are being investigated by FIFA as it tries to determine whether the Champions League winners have followed rules relating to the transfer of young players, and the Spanish club said they are in accordance with all regulations.

Officials at world football's governing body want to establish whether Real have breached article 19 of its regulations on the transfer of players. The article prohibits the transfer of players under the age of 18 except in certain predetermined situations.

On Monday, a FIFA spokesperson told ESPN FC: "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 time-being."

Real responded to reports of the investigation with a lengthy statement released late Monday night that confirmed FIFA's request for information. The club said they are cooperating with the request and insisted they were in "strict adherence, without exceptions, to the Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players, and is in complete agreement with such investigations being carried out to this end."

Real Madrid said FIFA asked about 51 players, and without naming them the club cited exemptions or provided explanations for each one.

Among the exemptions were that 10 were Spanish nationals, and 23 foreign players had already been registered with a Spanish club.

AS reported that FIFA's investigation may have started over the cases of Venezuelan youngsters Manuel Godoy and Fernando Macias, who were brought to Madrid by Miguel Angel Coira, an Argentinean ex-footballer who runs a football school for young players in Madrid.

It reported that the governing body asked the Spanish Football Federation to see all documentation relating to underage players at clubs with which Real have agreements. It said 22 such clubs existed in the Madrid Autonomous Region, with the possibility of more such arrangements being in place with overseas clubs.

The report revealed that the agreements between Real and feeder clubs include a clause stating that all their players, in every age group, must be available to Madrid squads.

The feeder clubs also agree to provide the players' registration documents and ensure they are registered in the name of Real Madrid, it added.

FIFA's Head of Integrity and Compliance, Kimberly Morris, wrote to the Spanish federation to ask for the information to be made available before Jan. 14, AS reported.

AS reported that federation secretary Jorge Perez passed that request to the clubs involved within 48 hours, and said lawyers for the Bernabeu club had examined the documents that were sent on to FIFA.

Real Madrid will "fully cooperate with everything FIFA asks," said Emilio Buitragueno, who heads up Real Madrid's institutional relations, on Monday.

"We are in agreement with FIFA about this matter and we will continue to collaborate with them. We are completely at ease over Real Madrid's direction," he said.

Atletico Madrid are also subject to investigation for youth transfer policies, and the probe could soon be widened to include other clubs, AS reported.

Last year, FIFA imposed a transfer ban on Barcelona for irregularities in the signing of underage players between 2009 and 2013, with the sanction meaning that Barca cannot sign any players until Jan. 1 next year. The club failed in an appeal against the punishment.

Its investigation into Real Madrid comes at a time when the club have signed a spate of youngsters including 16-year-olds Mink Peeters, from Ajax, and highly-rated Norway international Martin Odegaard from Stromsgodset.