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Context of 'October 10, 2007: Barcelona Successfully Sues Former Child Player for Breaching Pre-Contractual Agreement'

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Cesc Fabregas, who will go on to captain Arsenal for a number of years, joins the club from Barcelona’s youth team. He is 16 years old. (Arsenal 2010) Fabregas is one of several Spanish players who leave their native country to join English football clubs at a young age; the moves are because English employment law allows 16-year-olds to sign contracts, whereas in Spain players can only sign when they are older (see October 10, 2007 and February 23, 2011).

FC Barcelona wins a £2.1 million lawsuit against Fran Merida, a player who left the football club when he was 16, later joining Arsenal FC. Merida is found not to have honored a pre-contractual agreement he had with the Catalan giants. Spanish clubs cannot sign youth players until they are 18, whereas clubs in England can sign 16-year-olds under British law, meaning that some Spanish players sign for English clubs on turning 16. (Bright 10/11/2007) Arsenal will decide not to appeal the ruling and pay the fine for Merida. Reportedly, this decision is taken to improve relations between the two clubs, which have been poor since a similar problem with Cesc Fabregas’s move to London in 2003. (Draper 10/31/2009)

Businessman Sandro Rosell is elected president of Spanish football club FC Barcelona, succeeding Joan Laporta, who had been in charge for seven years. Rosell, a former Barcelona vice president who resigned in 2005 after arguing with Laporta, wins more than 60 percent of votes cast by club members. (BBC 6/13/2010)

Arsenal FC signs Jon Miquel Toral Harper from Barcelona, a couple of weeks after his 16th birthday. Due to different employment laws in Spain and Britain, Arsenal can offer Toral a professional contract, although FC Barcelona cannot yet do so and cannot stop him from going to England. Toral is not the first 16-year-old to leave Barcelona for Arsenal; the best-known such transfer was that of current Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas, who left Catalonia for London in 2003, when he was also 16. Barcelona president Sandro Rosell expresses the Catalans’ displeasure over the deal, calling it “legal but a little immoral.” (Guardian 2/24/2011)


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