Barcelona, Spain (SportsNetwork.com) - FIFA announced on Wednesday that Barcelona has been banned from making signings for two successive transfer windows after failing to follow rules relating to transfers of players under the age of 18.
Following an investigation by FIFA last year, it was determined that both Barcelona and the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) were guilty of multiple violations that related to the registering of foreign players as well as international transfers.
A FIFA statement read: "The FIFA Disciplinary Committee has sanctioned the Real Federacion Espanola de Futbol (RFEF) and Spanish club FC Barcelona for breaches relating to the international transfer and registration of players under the age of 18.
"The investigations concerned several minor players who were registered and participated in competitions with the club over various periods between 2009 and 2013."
Under FIFA rules, the transfer of international youth players is only permissible when one of the following three conditions apply: The player's parents have moved country for their own non-related reasons; The move takes place within the European Union if a player is between 16 and 18 years of age; The player's home is less than 50 kilometers from the national border being crossed.
FIFA did not specify when the transfer ban would start, but if it is applied immediately, Barcelona would be unable to sign players during the 2014 summer transfer window as well as the January 2015 window.
That punishment would present some significant problems for Barca given that the top two goalkeepers at the club, Victor Valdes and Jose Manuel Pinto, are both out of contract this summer.
The club was expected to sign at least one goalkeeper, with Monchengladbach's Marc Andre ter Stegen believed to have already agreed to a contract, while defensive reinforcements were expected to arrive at the Camp Nou this summer with the departure of veteran Carles Puyol at the end of the season.
In addition to the transfer ban, Barcelona was fined $500,000 by FIFA, although the club will reportedly appeal the decision at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.