Chelsea’s recruitment of young talent is under scrutiny after it emerged Burkina Faso international Bertrand Traore played for their under-18s side when aged 16, in an apparent breach of FIFA regulations.
Chelsea could even face the prospect of being placed under a transfer embargo if found guilty of wrongdoing.
Chelsea believe Traore was the subject of an option agreement which allowed him to play in friendly games.
FIFA rules prohibit the international transfer of a minor (an under-18), with Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid earlier this month handed transfer embargoes for the next two complete windows after breaching the regulations. Both clubs plan to contest the sanctions.
Barcelona were placed under a transfer embargo for infringing the same rules in 2014 and have only this month been allowed to register players again.
A FIFA spokesperson told Press Association Sport: “We are not in a position to comment on any investigations that are ongoing so as not to compromise the process, nor do we provide any comments as to whether or not any investigations are under way.”
Chelsea would only say: “Bertrand Traore was registered by Chelsea FC in January 2014 in compliance with FA and Premier League Rules.
“Prior to that date, he was party to an option agreement which enabled the club to acquire his registration in January 2014.
“The option agreement was registered with, and approved by, both The FA and the Premier League.”
The Premier League champions successfully appealed against a transfer ban at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in 2010 over the signing of Gael Kakuta from Lens.
The Premier League said all rules were followed in Chelsea’s signing of Traore on January 1, 2014, the first day of the transfer window opening following his 18th birthday, on September 6, 2013.
What prompts questions is the earlier recruitment of Traore and his participation in a Chelsea under-18s match at Arsenal on October 23, 2011, when he was 16.
Press Association has a photograph of Traore taking part in the game at the Emirates Stadium.
The report on Arsenal’s official website mentions Traore brushing the top of the crossbar with a 30-yard shot in the friendly fixture where his Chelsea team-mates included goalkeeper Jamal Blackman and midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek, both now also members of Chelsea’s first-team squad.
International transfers are only permitted for players over the age of 18 – unless the player in question meets one of three qualifying criteria.
Under-18s can move to a club in a different country if their parents move there for non-footballing reasons, if they are from another nation within the European Union or European Economic Area and aged between 16 and 18, or if they live within 100km of the club.