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How did Chelsea sign Kovacic when they have a transfer ban?

06:01 BST 02/07/2019
Mateo Kovacic Chelsea 2018-19
The Blues have announced a signing, but how did they get around the governing body's sanction?

Chelsea have made their first purchase of the summer in Croatian midfielder Mateo Kovacic despite FIFA recently slapping a two-window transfer ban on the club due to its conduct regarding signing foreign minors.

The 25-year-old playmaker has joined the Blues from Real Madrid on a five-year contract after a €45 million (£40m/$51m) fee was agreed with the Spanish giants.

Kovacic's permanent move to London comes after he spent last season on loan at Stamford Bridge under the club's former manager Maurizio Sarri.

But how did Chelsea get around a suspension on incoming players from football's governing body? Goal looks at their play...

How did Chelsea sign Kovacic?

Despite being banned by FIFA from signing players for the next 12 months until the 2020 summer window, Chelsea managed to acquire Kovacic permanently because of a loophole in their transfer suspension.

The Croatian joined the club on loan for the duration of last season and the agreement between Chelsea and Real Madrid stipulated the Blues had the option to purchase Kovacic for €45m (£40m/$51m) before June 30, 2019.

Because Kovacic's loan deal between the two clubs was signed off on before Chelsea's transfer ban was implemented in February, they can sign the player permanently without flouting the rules.

Last season at the club under Sarri, Kovacic made 51 appearances in all competitions as he helped the club to the Europa League title and a Premier League top-four finish.

Kovacic was technically purchased by Chelsea while they are without a manager, with club legend Frank Lampard set to be appointed in the role imminently.

Why have Chelsea been hit with a transfer ban?

According to FIFA, the ban is being imposed on Chelsea because the governing body found the club to be in breach of regulations relating to the international transfer and registration of players under the age of 18.

Specifically, the Blues were found to have breached article 19 of the Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players in the case of 29 minors.

The club was also found to have breached article 18bis (which concerns third-party influence on clubs) in connection with two agreements that were reached concerning minors.

It is not clear which players the breaches in question are related to.

As well as a ban, FIFA issued a fine of 600,000 Swiss Francs (£460k/$600k) and the Blues have been given a period of 90 days to "regularise the situation of the minor players concerned".

Furthermore, not only have Chelsea been sanctioned by FIFA, so too have the Football Association (FA).

FIFA fined the English governing body 510,000 Swiss Francs (£390k/$510k) for breaches and imposed a six-month period in which to "address the situation".

Did Chelsea appeal the transfer ban?

Yes, Chelsea brought their case before the FIFA Appeal Committee and appealed the findings of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee.

"Chelsea FC categorically refutes the findings of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee and will therefore be appealing the decision," an official statement said back in February.

"The club wishes to emphasise that it respects the important work undertaken by FIFA in relation to the protection of minors and has fully cooperated with FIFA throughout its investigation."

However, that appeal, which was heard on April 11, was subsequently rejected by FIFA on May 8.

While the decision of the FIFA Appeal Committee is "final and binding", should Chelsea have decided to make a further appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) - a process that could months to be complete.

The ban is unlikely to be overturned in the near-future but could possibly be scrapped before the 2020 winter window if a favourable finding is found.

Will there be any other new faces at Chelsea?

Despite being currently unable to sign any new players because of the sanction, Chelsea will still welcome the addition of U.S. international Christian Pulisic to the squad from Borussia Dortmund.

Pulisic was purchased from Dortmund in a £58m (€64m/$73m) deal in January - prior to the transfer ban starting - and was immediately loaned back to the German club for the remainder of the season.

The 20-year-old will now begin his career at Stamford Bridge and help plug the gap vacated by star winger Eden Hazard - who defected to Real Madrid in a €100m (£88m/$112m) transfer.

The Blues also had the option of purchasing Juventus striker Gonzalo Higuain - who spent the second half of the campaign on loan at the club - but ultimately decided not to pursue a deal.