Scandal is nothing new to Spain. Politicians engulfed in corruption scandals are the norm in every province at every level, and top businessmen are a mainstay in the headlines for similar offenses. This week however, it was Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid’s turns to be mired in scandal, which has seen them hit with heavy sanctions.
Barcelona were hit with similar sanctions by FIFA last year, which saw them unable to incorporate new players until this month. Like Barcelona, Atlético and Real Madrid were found to have committed irregularities in regards to youth transfers. In Real Madrid’s case, the sons of head coach Zinedine Zidane were among the players involved.
Both clubs plan on appealing their punishments, which would see them unable to incorporate new players in the next two transfer windows. Therefore there rosters would remain more or less the same as they are today, until 2017.
Winning an appeal seems rather unlikely, as Barcelona tried the same tactic but merely delayed their punishment by six months.
This could have crippling effects for both clubs in the long run. True, Barcelona was able to win yet another treble despite the sanctions last season, but they also missed out on a number of youth prospects that they could have added to their academy ranks.
For clubs like Barcelona and Atlético, whom rely heavily on their youth squads supplying the senior side with fresh young talent, the repercussions are more heavily felt than for maybe Real Madrid.
Real has never really looked to their youth products to be contributors at the top level. That’s not to say that their academy La Fabrica, or The Factory, doesn’t produce talent. On the contrary, past products include Juventus star Alvaro Morata, retired Barça legend Samuel Eto’o and Alvaro Negredo who now plies his trade with Valencia and has appeared on the Spanish national team.
Instead Real Madrid develops their youngsters, with an eye on selling them once they have proven themselves or are on the cusp of doing so. Using those transfer fee earnings, they then turn around and buy a marquee name to appease the Bernabeu faithful.
What could really hurt both teams is the possibility that they will have to return any and all players that FIFA finds to have been bought with the alleged irregularities (what the “irregularities” are exactly is still unlear). That means Real Madrid’s three recent buys at the youth level; Martin Odegaard, Marco Asecio and Danilo could be returned. Same for Atlético’s duo of Mattias Kranevitter and Augusto Fernandez. If not, then both teams seem like geniuses, stockpiling talent that will soften the blow in the near future.
If there is any league that can handle controversy, it’s La Liga. With the entire country steeped in it, it’s only natural that its soccer league is too.