FIFA has rejected appeals from Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid against their transfer bans for breaching rules governing the transfer and registration of players aged under 18.
The Spanish giants were originally sanctioned by world football’s governing body in January but their punishments were provisionally lifted pending this appeal.
That enabled them to register new players in the most recent transfer window but they are now banned from doing so in the next two windows.
Atletico and Real have also been fined £696,000 and £278,000 respectively, although Real have already announced that they will appeal against FIFA’s ruling at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
A FIFA statement said: “The FIFA appeal committee has decided to reject the appeals lodged by Spanish clubs Atletico de Madrid and Real Madrid and to confirm in their entirety the decisions rendered by the FIFA disciplinary committee in the respective cases relating to the protection of minors.”
It added that the ban “prevents them from registering any players at national and international level for the next two complete and consecutive registration periods” but does not stop them releasing players. It also does not apply to clubs’ beach soccer, futsal or women’s teams.
Real Madrid, who beat Atletico on penalties in May’s Champions League Final, said it would ask the Swiss-based CAS for an urgent appeal hearing.
“We regret this decision on the ground that is profoundly unfair and contrary to the most elementary principles of penal law,” a club statement added.
A similar statement from Atletico arrived a few minutes later, confirming that they will also take their case to sport’s highest court.
Real’s great rivals Barcelona were hit with a similar penalty in 2014 and they failed to overturn the sanction at CAS.
The cases against Atletico and Real are understood to relate to up to 50 under-age players signed by the clubs from abroad between 2005 and 2014, and it is believed that current Real manager Zinedine Zidane’s four sons – who are on the books of the European champions – are among them.
FIFA has strict rules on the international transfer of minors because some European clubs in the past have stockpiled young overseas talent, only to release those players a long way from home when they fail to make the grade.
For example, clubs can only sign under-18s from abroad if the player’s parents have moved to where the club is based but that move was not triggered by the transfer.
Players over 16 are also allowed to move between clubs in the European Union or European Economic Area, or if the player lives less than 100km from the foreign club he or she is moving to.
Barca managed to win three trophies, including the Champions League, during its transfer ban in 2014/15 but they spent heavily while they exhausted the appeals process, something the two Madrid clubs – in particular Real – did not do this summer.
That would suggest that both sides will focus their efforts on holding onto the stars they already possess, which means Real persuading Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo to stay put, and Atletico keeping Antoine Griezmann out of the clutches of his many suitors.
It also means Real will have to shelve any possible plans to try and pry long-term goalkeeping target David de Gea away from Manchester United.