It’s reported this morning that FIFA has closed its inquiry on youth recruitment at Villarreal without recommending any punishment. Valencia CF will be delighted also, as they are similarly spared.
While it has never been totally clear what the case was about, you’ll recall that a number of teams, Villarreal and Valencia among them, had a brief fling with the Chinese market at a time when the Spanish economic “crisis” was in full swing. Hundreds of thousands of followers on Weibo! A Mandarin-language webpage! In Villarreal’s case, kit from a Chinese clothing company no one has heard of before or since!!*** And as part of that, youngsters from China visited academies in Spain, and that is apparently what brought about all the kerfuffle.
Sr. Llaneza said several years ago Villarreal had given all sorts of documentation to FIFA as regards this and was confident no rules had been broken. FIFA may not have totally said that (we’re not sure) but the word is neither Villarreal nor Valencia will face any sanctions—not fines, not limits on transfers, nor anything else. Good news for both teams, and for both sets of supporters, who can now indulge in transfer speculation to their heart’s content.
***There is one good thing about the Xtep era at Villarreal—-their replica kit included shorts with pockets!!! Ridiculous, but it makes them work well as a pair of shorts to wear in public, unlike every other pair of kit shorts I’ve ever had. The quality wasn’t great, but the convenience factor was good.
Apparently Xtep is still around but following their experience with Villarreal and Birmingham City (who canned them after a year), are not doing football kit any more.