In a report by French outlet Mediapart last week, the media organisation alleges that in 2015, PSG’s signing of Kays Ruiz-Atil, then just 12 years old and considered by the Barcelona academy as a potential future Lionel Messi, was highly legally questionable, claiming that the club gave the player’s father a fictitious job to circumvent FIFA regulations relating to the recruitment of minors.
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Ruiz-Atil’s family was and still is advised by Arnaud Pericard, a lawyer, who negotiated what PSG were to pay the player.
In April 2015, PSG board stalwarts were debating the possibility of signing Kays Ruiz-Atil, then 12, who was no longer able to play for Barcelona because of FIFA sanctions that had been placed on the Catalan club owing to infringements relating to the transfer of minors.
PSG were thus in the mix, looking to bring a French boy back to his native country, even if Lyon, who were also interested, was his hometown. How could they pull this off? FIFA prohibits minor footballers from moving country unless their family moves for another reason.
PSG had a plan – they prepped a letter for the boy’s father to send to FIFA, which allegedly read as follows:
“My wife and I have decided to come back to France with our children and settle in the Paris region. We wanted to become closer with a part of our family.”
All that was left for the father to do was to copy it out and send it. There was however a snag – the parents of the player insisted as a condition of the deal that PSG houses them, which posed a problem per a high-ranking club official, according to Football Leaks.
If PSG were to take care of the family’s accommodation, that could be seen as remunerating either the boy or his parents, which is illegal and would put the club at high-risk of charges of violation of the prohibition on remunerating parents and concealed employment of a minor subjected to compulsory schooling.
An idea was then thought up: give the father a job as a scout, as soon as the family arrives in France. This technically works in line with FIFA regulations because if the father were to find employment in France, that would serve to fulfil FIFA’s criteria of a family moving for other reasons than their son’s footballing career.
Was this a grey line? Certainly. But PSG went through with it, with Radouan Atil brought in as a scout in July 2015, earning €3.2k a month gross, plus bonuses, with an immediate bonus worth €30k. Even today, he is still on the club’s books. Mediapart are asking the question if PSG created a fake job for the father so that they could sign his son.
Ruiz-Atil’s father had the following to say to Mediapart in response: “You are dealing with fake news. I work like everyone else, I earn my pie like everyone else. If today you think that I have a fake job, it is not one. End of story… You just want to screw with PSG. I would ask you to stop taking advantage of Kays as a means to tell stories that aren’t true.”
On PSG’s part, they had the following to say:
“The Ruiz family moved from Lyon to Barcelona after their son was recruited by the Catalan club, despite his tender age. Several years later, FIFA came in and legally pursued Barcelona after several signings like that of Kays… [the family] decided to move to Paris where a part of the rest of the family leaves… [it made] total sense [that PSG] would be interested in signing him.”
As for handing the player’s father a job, the Ligue 1 champions said the following to Mediapart:
“Radouan Atil was involving in football and notably scouting in Spain…. when he came to Paris, we offered him the chance to become a scout in his birth region, Rhône-Alpes, which he knows well and where he was previously in charge of FC Gerland.”
Two years after joining PSG, in 2017, aged 15, Kays Ruiz-Atil was offered a youth contract with PSG, worth €5k a month pre-tax and a signing bonus worth €102,967 pre-tax. In this deal, there was a clause that automatically gave him a professional contract from the 2018-19 campaign onwards, seeing his wage rise to €13,600 a month pre-tax and earning him a new signing bonus worth €400k.
At the age of 17, this contract is to be extended, with another €400k signing bonus to be received in 2019. There is yet another extension clause in the deal for the 2020-21 campaign, which will see the teen earn yet another signing bonus of €400k.
At this point, the family’s lawyer, Arnaud Péricard, is alleged to have made other demands to the club, notably that PSG up the player’s father’s wage to €4.5k a month. The lawyer snapped back in a comment to Mediapart on the allegation that the contracts of the father and son in this instance were linked as they were being negotiated at the same time: “You don’t need to nit-pick like that.”
Péricaud is also Adrien Rabiot’s lawyer…