Le Havre boss: Talent plundering must stop

PARIS - FIFA has sent a strong signal to the richest clubs that they must stop plundering young talent, Le Havre sporting director Alain Belsoeur said on Friday.

The Ligue 2 side, home to one of the finest football academies in France, have asked the world governing body to investigate the transfer of 16-year-old midfielder Paul Pogba, who left to join Manchester United last month.

Le Havre claim the case is similar to that of United's Premier League rivals Chelsea, who were banned by FIFA from signing players until January 2011 for improper conduct when they signed Gael Kakuta (pictured), now 18, from Racing Lens in 2007.

"It is a very strong decision which shows that a player under contract cannot leave just like that," Belsoeur told Reuters about the Kakuta ruling.

"The Pogba case is very similar," he added. "Manchester United are saying they respected the rules but they did not."

A United spokesman said on Friday: "We have nothing to fear as we have done nothing wrong. We know Le Havre are not very happy with us, but we have acted correctly."

At stake is a rule saying a young player being developed in France must sign his first professional contract with the club coaching him unless the French Football Federation (FFF) issues him with a transfer certificate.


"In Pogba's case, the Federation refused to issue the transfer certificate that he needed to go abroad," Belsoeur said. "Our lawyers are in charge of this and will deal with it in the club's best interests.

"The problem is English clubs feel those are French rules that do not apply to them when they want to sign a youngster.

"FIFA have just told them they do and sent out a strong signal to the clubs acting like predators which tells them: 'Stop behaving that way, or it will hurt'."

France has a tradition of developing young players, notably at Le Havre who have produced talents such as goalkeeper Steve Mandanda and midfielder Lassana Diarra, both internationals now playing for Olympique Marseille and Real Madrid respectively.

Clubs like Le Havre and Racing Lens, who have just returned to Ligue 1, spend millions of euros on their academies and are frustrated when rich foreign clubs sign their best teenagers without paying compensation.

"At Le Havre we spend five million euros a year on our academy, which is a lot for a club with a total budget of 25 million euros," Belsoeur said.

"Out of the 25 professional players in our squad, 16 come from our academy. We want that work to be respected.

"If Cristiano Ronaldo leaves Real Madrid for Bayern Munich before the end of his contract, there must be some compensation. The same goes for players from academies."