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CAS upholds Atlético Madrid transfer ban

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Well, this stinks.

Club Atletico de Madrid v Real Madrid CF - UEFA Champions League Semi Final: Second Leg Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Atlético Madrid’s FIFA-imposed registration ban appeal was unsuccessful, and the ban now will run through the summer 2017 window, the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled Wednesday.

Atlético had its appeal heard on April 24 and were confident of its success. However, the CAS panel officially has rejected the appeal, and Atleti will not be able to field new players until January 2018.

Atlético will still be able to complete signings, as Barcelona were able to under its ban in 2015. But Atleti remain unable to register new players for domestic or European competition, which means they will be ineligible until the transfer ban’s expiry.

Late Tuesday night, an excerpt of a document was released from Real Madrid’s successful transfer ban appeal that shed light on Atlético’s forthcoming appeal. In that document, lawyers arguing on behalf of Madrid pointed out that Atleti were cited for 65 “severe cases” in violation of Articles 19.1 and 19.3 of FIFA’s Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players. These articles state that international transfers of players under the age of 18 are prohibited except when the player's parents move to a new country for non-footballing reasons and/or the player lives no further than 50 kilometers (31 miles) from a national border, with the club also located within 50 km of said national border. These rules are intended to protect young players and stop child trafficking.

The high number of incidents in Atlético’s case could be viewed as the club willingly disregarding FIFA regulations, thus making the Royal Spanish Football Federation’s interpretations - correct or incorrect - irrelevant and contributing to the Court’s reported decision to uphold the ban.

This ruling changes Atlético’s summer plans drastically. Deals that were in the works for Alexandre Lacazette of Lyon, Sandro Ramírez of Málaga and Sevilla midfielder Vitolo have been plunged into peril. It is unknown if these players will remain interested in signing with the knowledge they either will not play or will be forced to stay with their current teams until 2018. Lacazette (Liverpool) and Sandro (Everton) have been linked with moves to the Premier League, while Vitolo and other targets such as Real Betis midfielder Dani Ceballos and Chelsea forward Diego Costa may not move at all.

Even more pressing is the situation regarding Antoine Griezmann, who reportedly is pushing for an exit to complete a move to Manchester United. The star forward has become infamous for changing his mind from interview to interview, but if he leaves while the club is unable to replace him, it would create a gaping hole in Diego Simeone’s front line that Ángel Correa, Kévin Gameiro and Fernando Torres cannot fill.

Atlético will turn now to recalling loaned-out players such as Diogo Jota (Porto), Matías Kranevitter and Luciano Vietto (both of Sevilla) to compete for playing time. Torres’ renewal should be announced imminently and he will start the lion’s share of games through December. Further, it is now unlikely there will be any major transfers out of the club this summer, which means players like Gameiro, Nico Gaitán and José Giménez will get at least a few more months to prove themselves.