Italian club Spezia hit with 2-year transfer ban by FIFA

ZURICH — American-owned Italian club Spezia was hit with a two-year transfer ban by FIFA on Friday for breaking transfer rules when it recruited young players from Africa.

FIFA said the case involved the Serie A club “bringing several Nigerian minors into Italy using a scheme aimed at circumventing (transfer of minor rules) as well as national immigration law.”

The ban in registering new players runs through the 2022-23 season, and the club must also pay a fine of 500,000 Swiss francs ($544,000), FIFA said.

It was unclear when the incidents took place or when FIFA began an investigation that also involved lower-tier clubs USD Lavagnese 1919 and Valdivara 5 Terre.

United States investor Robert Platek bought the club in February.

Spezia placed 15th in Serie A last season and appointed former Italy midfielder Thiago Motta as coach this month.

The club can appeal the sanction and ask for the punishment to be frozen pending a hearing.

That could allow Spezia to register new signings during the current transfer window that is open through August.

More AP soccer: and