LONDON: Al-Nassr may have bounced back from a dreadful start to the 2020-21 Saudi season to become the Kingdom’s form team but the Riyadh giants have recently been dealt a heavy blow that could disrupt the side’s upward momentum.
The football world governing body, FIFA, has slapped Al-Nassr, currently fifth in the Saudi Pro League after a nine-game unbeaten run, with a ban which potentially leaves the club unable to strengthen the squad in the next three transfer windows.
It all started when Al-Nassr signed Maicon Pereira Roque on loan from Galatasaray in 2019 and then made the deal for the powerful Brazilian defender permanent last August. The Turkish giant subsequently complained to FIFA that they had not received the full transfer fee from the nine-time Saudi champions.
In December, FIFA informed Al-Nassr, in a letter seen by Arab News, that they had to pay the Istanbul club the outstanding amount of 1.1 million euros (SR5 million) and an extra 300,000 euros in fines.
Earlier this week, the due date for payment came and went, and a FIFA official told Arab News: “In all our decisions, if a club fails to pay the amount ordered by FIFA or CAS (the Court of Arbitration for Sport) within 45 days of the decision, the club serves a three-window transfer ban until payment is made.”
The FIFA spokesperson said that the transfer ban would be lifted as soon as payment was received by Galatasaray.
According to Saudi media reports, Al-Nassr officials have already been in contact with their counterparts in Turkey to settle the matter and if so, will then be able to strengthen the squad in the next transfer window.
Ayman Al-Rifai, former head of the Saudi Arabia Football Association’s disciplinary committee, told Al Arabiya television that until the ban was lifted, Al-Nassr would not even be able to sign players who were free agents.
“The Saudi professional regulations prohibit the club from registering a substitute player for the injured player in the event of a FIFA decision banning the club from transfer windows, so Al-Nassr have no right to register a substitute player in place of an injured one,” he said.
The impasse means that Al-Nassr are currently unable to sign one of the most coveted free agents in football. Alex Teixeira, a Liverpool target in 2017, led Jiangsu Suning to the Chinese Super League title last year and the Brazilian is currently out of contract and available on a free transfer.
The midfielder had been linked with a move to Riyadh to replace South Korean international Kim Jin-soo, who is out injured for the rest of the season. But the transfer would not be possible if the FIFA ban remained in place.
The issue with Galatasaray is not the only financial problem on Al-Nassr’s agenda. Maicon has not appeared since Jan. 24 due to a salary dispute with the club, although according to the Brazilian’s agent negotiations are underway to settle the matter and it is expected that the player will return to training in the coming days.