Lionel Messi risks a FIFA ban if he leaves Barcelona without resolving his contractual dispute, a leading sports lawyer has claimed.
Messi has handed in a transfer request and remains under contract until the summer of 2021.
Nick De Marco QC, who has represented sport’s governing bodies, players, clubs and agents since 2002, says world football’s governing body is likely to be asked to settle any dispute in the first instance.
“If it ended up anywhere, it would be most likely in the FIFA Dispute Resolution Chamber because Messi, being Argentinian, the FIFA rules would apply, and FIFA has its own set of laws and rules,” De Marco, of Blackstone Chambers, told The Transfer Show on Sky Sports News.
“So, it’s unlikely to be Spanish law or English law or Swiss law but it would be the FIFA rules that apply, and they have a commission that can determine these things.
“Ultimately, either party can then appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. That’s how these sorts of issues are normally dealt with.
“One possibility, and it’s certainly not one I’m advising anybody, is a player simply just walks out and says, ‘I’m entitled to walk out, so I’m walking out’.
“The risk with that strategy is, although FIFA will normally allow the registration to move with the player, if the club then brings a claim and succeeds, not only is the player liable to [pay] damages but also is likely to be banned under FIFA rules for a period of months and the new club signing him have a transfer embargo.
“It’s such a high-risk strategy that, unless you were sure that the player was in the right, it’s not a risk one would take.”