Italian club Spezia wins in appeal against FIFA transfer ban

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — Spezia was cleared to resume player trading by sport’s highest court which gave its verdict Friday in the Italian soccer club’s appeal against a FIFA transfer ban.

The Serie A club had a two-year ban on registering new players imposed by FIFA last year for alleged trafficking of young players from Nigeria. The players were signed before the club was bought by its current American owners, the Platek family.

Spezia served the first part of its ban during the January transfer window and was told Friday its sanction was halved by the Court of Arbitration for Sport with the ban in the current offseason suspended for a probationary period of three years.

“The CAS panel in charge of this matter found the number of violations committed by the club to be much lower than the FIFA Disciplinary Committee had determined,” the court said.

The court gave a fast-track verdict after the appeal hearing was held last month to ensure clarity ahead of the Italian transfer window opening.

In a statement, club president Philip Platek said “we can finally leave this matter behind us and look to the future with optimism and the usual desire to work for the good of Spezia.”

The club also recouped 300,000 Swiss francs ($305,000) from the appeal. The judges cut the 500,000 Swiss francs ($508,000) fine originally imposed by FIFA down to 200,000 Swiss francs ($203,000).

Despite the transfer limits in January, Spezia placed 16th in 20-team Serie A to earn a third season in the Italian top tier.

Spezia’s previous owner was Gabriele Volpi, who took over a bankrupt club in 2008 and oversaw promotions from the fifth tier into Serie A for the first time in 2020.

FIFA alleged Spezia’s Nigerian scheme, also involving two lower-ranked clubs, was designed to avoid its rules to protect minors from international trafficking and also Italian immigration laws.

The player deals in the dispute were made before the Platek family bought the club in February 2021.

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