Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu came out swinging, Thursday, accusing FIFA of being “aggressive” and “abusive” in its decision to penalise the club for alleged breaches of transfer regulations.
“I would like to make it clear that Barca are in total agreement with FIFA’s rules regarding the protection of minors,” he said, adding that the Primera Division giants prided themselves on their youth academy, known as La Masia, as per Santi Gimenez of AS.
In a FIFA ruling handed down on Wednesday, the governing body sentenced Barcelona to a transfer ban for what it described as “breaches relating to the international transfer and registration of players under the age of 18.”
Bartomeu’s retort was that the La Masia model had been in place for 35 years and tended to offer better education than what its foreign youngsters could expect to receive in their own countries.
“We are not prepared to forgo our educational model and we will defend all of the minors on our books,” he said. “The message we want to transmit is that La Masia cannot be touched.”
La Masia, or “The Farmhouse,” has been in operation since 1979 and has graduated numerous footballers into Barcelona’s first team.
Following is a look at its 20 most illustrious alumni.