Pape Gueye case: why OM is banned from recruiting

FIFA has sanctioned Olympique de Marseille with a recruitment ban for the next two transfer windows.

A free transfer which could ultimately cost OM dearly. In the summer 2020, midfielder Pape Gueye signs free at Olympique de Marseille, from Le Havre. Except that in the meantime, the player had signed up with the English team of Watford, before retracting. Wronged, the English club filed an appeal with the FIFA Dispute Resolution Chamber in February 2021. After several months of investigation, the international body sanctioned Pape Gueye and OM.

Currently in Cameroon to compete in the CAN with Senegal, the midfielder of 22 years learned of his suspension there a few hours before the match against Guinea, as revealed by his coach Aliou Cissé: “Five minutes before, we were informed that FIFA suspended him for a transfer case between his club Marseille and Watford. His lawyer informed us that morning around o’clock, but just before kick-off, we had the confirmation. That’s why we removed it on the score sheet”. The midfielder’s suspension is for 4 months according to information from the Team , and would be accompanied by compensation of 2.5 million euros to pay to Watford for OM.

For its part, in addition to the fine to be paid, Olympique de Marseille is prohibited from recruiting for one year, i.e. for the next two transfer windows, namely that of the summer 2022 and January 2023. A blow for Marseille president Pablo Longoria, who pays the pots for a decision he had not helped make, since he was not yet at the club at the time of the events. The club has announced its willingness to appeal the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), a suspensive appeal whose verdict should fall in 3 to 6 months. Note that Watford has also appealed, the English club hoping for compensation of Million euros.

If Pape Gueye settled down in Marseille on July 1 2020, the case actually dates back to January 2020. Six months from the end of his contract in Le Havre, the midfielder is free to commit wherever he wants from the summer. The player agrees with Watford and signs a five-year pre-contract in England. Except that at the beginning of the year 2020, Pape Gueye surrounded himself with a new agent who noted several irregularities in the signed pre-contract (and in particular the possibility of seeing the player sent to Udinese, also owned by the Pozzo family which owns Watford). Cooled, Gueye retracts and French clubs position themselves.

Convinced of being within their rights, Olympique de Marseille rushes into the breach and attracts the player. The leaders of the time assure that the club is in no danger, although Watford is already crying foul. The axis of the defense of the new agent of Gueye: medical visits passed by his player in June 60 with Watford, while he was still under contract in Le Havre .

What justify the cancellation of the pre-contract. And therefore sign at OM, where the transfer is validated. Since then, Pape Gueye has played more than 60 games with the Phocaeans. Because the time to gather testimony and evidence, Watford only filed its appeal with FIFA in February 2021, before an investigation was completed in the fall. Hence these sanctions nearly 20 months after the facts.