German football club Cologne said FIFA has banned it from signing new players next season as punishment for breaking transfer rules in the case of a promising 17-year-old forward from Slovenia.
Cologne said in a statement late on Wednesday that it was accused of inciting Jaka Cuber Potocnik to break his contract with Olimpija Ljubljana in his home country.
Cologne said a FIFA tribunal fined the club 51,750 euros ($56,100), banned it from signing new players in the next two transfer windows, and suspended Potocnik for four months.
The club, which announced plans to appeal the verdict to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, argues Potocnik left Olimpija because of “numerous breaches of contract” and says it has evidence it did not incite him to leave.
FIFA has not published any details of the case.
Potocnik is considered one of the brightest young talents in German club football. He has scored 13 goals in as many games in the under-19 league for Cologne this season and has represented Slovenia’s national under-19 team. In recent years, FIFA has stepped up efforts to enforce worldwide rules in the often cutthroat international transfer market, especially around the signing of players under the age of 18. Chelsea served a transfer ban for one window in 2019 after the sanction was reduced from two transfer windows on appeal.
French club Marseille is in the process of appealing a ban imposed over its signing of Senegal midfielder Pape Gueye. English club Watford claims it had a valid agreement in place to sign Gueye before he moved to Marseille instead.