MANCHESTER CITY have been cleared of ANY misconduct over the controversial signing of Argentine teenager Benjamin Garre.
When Fifa found in City’s favour, agreeing that the Etihad club were free to sign him because he had an Italian passport and was out of contract, Velez appealed to the Lausanne-based Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Velez accused Fifa of allowing City to break their own rules and pushed CAS to rule that City deserved a potential transfer ban.
But after a process which began last July and was finally completed yesterday, it is understood that CAS has refused to uphold the Velez case and found in City’s favour.
That clears the way for the club to hand Pep Guardiola another huge summer transfer kitty as he bids to strengthen the Prem’s dominant club and finally make the Champions league breakthrough City’s Abu Dhabi owners are desperate to achieve.
City are ready to hand Guardiola another £200m this summer with the Catalan supremo aiming to add two or three players to the squad which has won the Prem with five games to spare.
And while City had been relaxed in the build-up to the final decision – CAS have tended not to rule against Fifa interpretation of their own rulebook – the judgement will be a relief.
Velez originally complained about the capture of Garre, now 17.
The Argentine club were convinced City had made initial contact when Garre was 15 before signing him just days after his 16th birthday in July 2016.
Velez President Raul Gamez accused City of an “immoral” act, opening Garre up to a potential “situation of vulnerability or abuse in a foreign country, without their family or somebody to protect them”.
The South American side claimed City had offered them a compensation payment of £42,000 if Garre made his first team debut plus further payments amounting to around £1m.
They argued that FIFA only allow players under-18 to move between clubs in European countries and that moving a 16-year-old player from one continent to another was an example of “trafficking” of a youngster.
But City pointed out that Garre was an Italian passport holder and therefore free to join them under EU law, because he was over 16 and had not signed a professional contract.
Fifa agreed at their initial hearing but Velez took the final route of an appeal to CAS.
With Euro giants Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid all having served transfer bans in recent seasons – although all three clubs were able to put the imposition of the embargos back to allow a summer recruitment drive ahead of the punishment – City might have found themselves in a similar position next January.
City and Chelsea are both the subject of “ongoing” Fifa probes into their recruitment policies.
But the culmination of the Garre case clears the way for Guardiola to spend as he sees fit this summer with no immediate threat of any restrictions.