FC Barcelona's president Josep Maria Bartomeu.
FC Barcelona's president Josep Maria Bartomeu. Andreu Dalmau

Real Madrid's transfer ban reduced by court

FOOTBALL: Real Madrid is free to sign players next summer after its FIFA transfer ban was halved by the Court of Arbitration for Sport on appeal.

The Spanish club and neighbours Atletico Madrid were prohibited from registering new players in 2017 after breaching rules regarding the transfer of foreign players under 18.

Real remains banned from registering new players in the upcoming January transfer window, but new signings will be able to play from the start of the 2017-18 season.

A statement released on the club's official website read: "The Court of Arbitration for Sport has today informed Real Madrid CF of their decision by which they have partially upheld the appeal lodged by the club against the FIFA resolution, which imposed a sanction forbidding the signing of players for two transfer windows, reducing said sanction to just one period, corresponding to the January 2017 transfer window.

"The decision highlights the injustice of the original ban imposed by FIFA, although the club regrets that the CAS lacked the courage to revoke the ruling entirely.”

Real's 360,000 Swiss franc ($480,000) fine has also been reduced to 240,000 Swiss francs. Atletico's appeal against its ban remains unresolved.

The two clubs were originally handed the bans in January, though appeals from both meant they were permitted to register players during the summer's window.

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has criticised CAS's decision. His club was subjected to a year-long ban for the same offence during 2015.

"This legal uncertainty must stop, and I doubt that all of the players' agents were wrong at the same time,” he said.

"The players are the ones suffering because the rules aren't clear - this is what happens when there is different criteria used to judge each act.”

The reduction of the ban increases the likelihood of fringe players leaving the club in the January window, with James Rodriguez's future being a particular subject of speculation.

The Colombia international said after Sunday's Club World Cup final triumph that he'd had offers from other clubs and was considering a move away from the Santiago Bernabeu.

"Things are not going as I would want,” he said. "But I have had offers and I have these seven days to think well about everything.

"I want to stay, but you must think about everything. I cannot assure you what will happen, as I want to play more.”

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