The FC BARCELONA ADVANTAGE and FIFA ARTICLE 19 STATUE
Right around August 2014 FIFA took action against La Masia, FC Barcelona’s soccer “farm club system” in Barcelona and cleaned house citing violations of Article 19 (statue that regulates how player transfers are handled). That massive clean up left a few kids homeless on the streets and a few others with better resources scrambling back to their home countries. Ben Lederman, a promising American youth player, was forced back to the United States to play the game.
At that time, FC Barcelona president, Josep Bartomeu, stated publicly that “La Masia can not be touched”. The club even went as far as displaying a banner at one of the home games… “La Masia no es toca”. In English, the banner read: “Don’t touch (or mess with) La Masia”.
Bartomeu also made it clear that he knows of at least 15,000 children in Catalonia who are banned by FIFA Article 19 statue. Yet, FC Barcelona never came out in defense of the affected children…only for La Masia.
Our organization always took a stand that we believe a rule like Article 19 must exist. However, it must be fair and balanced, which it is not. The rule is a blanket rule that simply protects kids from exploitation for “footballing reasons”. The fact is that the rule affects children all over the world who travel with their parents for reasons non-related to football. The rule requires parents to submit 15–19 documents including work contracts/agreements. In the case of some parents, who have enough money to survive years living abroad…what happens?
So how is FC Barcelona continuing to sign children to La Masia? This week the club announced the signing of Fermin Lopez, Betis, and Jorge Alastuey, Zaragoza. The children will live, train and play at La Masia. According to Article 19, this should be a violation of the statue. The distance between the child’s home and the playing club is much more than 50 kilometers. What is the difference here?
A child who wishes to play at a small local neighborhood club has been banned by FIFA for almost 2 years simply because his parents are separated and the child’s mother is involved in a LGBT relationship. Is this the child’s fault?
There are 1000’s of cases on our desk from all over the globe. However, one thing stand true so far…La Masia No Es Toca. Business as usual at Football Club Barcelona.