French outlet Mediapart claim that Belgium is the most problematic country for violations relating to the recruitment of minors in football.
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FIFA rejected 71 international transfer and registration request from clubs in this country between 2010 and 2015. In 40 cases, the reason given for the transfer was that “the parents had moved for a reason other than football”. This exception makes it possible to override the prohibition of the transfer of minors, but in those 40 cases, FIFA found these claims to be baseless.
In January 2018, cases that FIFA had not got to concerning this country that they had received recommendations for from lower investigatory chambers within their own organisation including a fine for the Belgian FA worth 377,750 Swiss francs and fines for three clubs: Anderlecht, Zulte Waregem (80k Swiss franc fines recommended for offences committed relating to 2 players) and Royal Antwerp (a 115k Swiss franc fine recommended for offences involving 3 players).
For the recruitment of Chancel Mbemba from Congo in 2011, Mediapart claim that Anderlecht is facing the threat of a fine of 215k Swiss francs and a year’s transfer recruitment ban. Mbemba today plays for FC Porto, after Anderlecht had initially sold the player to Newcastle United for €10m in 2015 – an excellent deal, even if the Belgian club end up paying a fine.
The player has separately been the centre of an age controversy, suspected of being older than he claims, having himself declared to be different ages at varying points that would not make sense. However, on the basis of a Congolese justice decision, Anderlecht and FIFA have confirmed that his date of birth is 1994, which means that he was a minor when he arrived in Belgium.
Anderlecht is also being pursued by FIFA over their player Jérémy Doku – the club in the media often complains about other foreign clubs looting their best. It was not known, until now as revealed by Mediapart, that Anderlecht had authorised Premier League side Liverpool in early 2018 to speak with then 16-year-old Doku. This possibility came about as part of the loan agreement for another player, Lazar Markovic.
Herman Van Holsbeeck has told the European Investigative Collaboration that Liverpool forced them into it: “We had no choice. Liverpool told us in the final hours of the transfer window. Ok, you can take [Markovic], but we want to be able to talk to Doku. It does not cost you anything.” Anderlecht were “under pressure, with poor results, the arrival of Markovic with this agreement for Doku was the only alternative.” As for now, Doku is still at Anderlecht.