English Premier League soccer team Chelsea has been hit with transfer ban by the sport's governing body FIFA, preventing the club signing any new players for the next two windows.
The west London club, who were Premier League champions in 2017, was found in breach of rules relating to the registration of 29 players under the age of 18.
The ban applies to the men's teams and does not prevent the release of players, which is potentially more bad news with Belgian forward Eden Hazard continually linked with a move to Spanish side Real Madrid.
"Chelsea categorically refutes the findings of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee and will therefore be appealing the decision." Chelsea said in a statement on Friday.
"We welcome the fact that FIFA has accepted that there was no breach in relation to 63 of these players, but the club are extremely disappointed that FIFA has not accepted the club's submissions in relation to the remaining 29 players." it added.
It's understood that the ban will not affect the arrival of US international midfielder Christian Pulisic in the summer, as his $78 million transfer from Borussia Dortmund was confirmed before the FIFA sanction. Similarly, the deal that brought Gonzalo Higuain to Chelsea on an 18-month loan last month, will not change.
Additionally, the club has been fined $600,000 and given a period of 90 days to "regularize" the situation of the minor players concerned.
The English Football Association (FA) was also found to have breached the rules in connection with minors. It's been fined $ 510,000 and given a period of six months to address the situation concerning the international transfer and first registration of minors in football.
Last year Chelsea's owner Roman Abramovich decided to shelve plans for a new stadium on the existing Stamford Bridge site, after the Russian's UK visa renewal application was denied. He's since taken up an Israeli passport, but has seldom been seen at Chelsea matches this season.
Rules on signing players under 18
FIFA's rule on international transfers of players state it is only permitted if the player is over the age of 18, with only 3 exceptions.
a) The player's parents move to the country in which the new club is located for reasons not linked to football.
b) Both clubs concerned with the transfer are within the territory of the European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA) and the player is aged between 16 and 18. However, even then the player should be provided with education and have their general living conditions taken care of.
c)The maximum distance between the player's home and the club they've signed for shall be no more than 100 kilometers (62 miles).