A talented young footballer from a Leeds school has been shown the red card from playing in a local league - because she is Spanish.
Carmen Olmos, 14, a boarder at Fulneck School, Pudsey, has been told she is not eligible to play for Wortley FC, because the Football Association (FA) cannot obtain “international clearance” for her.
It says its hands are tied by FIFA regulations and while she can play for the school, she is banned from joining any team playing in a competitive league.
Dave Needham, Fulneck’s head of sport, said: “Carmen is a fantastic footballer and is desperate to play in a competitive league. Not allowing her to play is plain crazy.
“She attended a number of trials with Wortley Girls FC, enjoyed them so much that she asked to join. The club wrote to the FA to check that, because Carmen had not previously registered for either a Spanish or English club, she would not need an International Transfer Certificate. Sadly the reply was that she could only play for the school. Carmen’s unhappy, her family are unhappy, we are unhappy and Wortley FC are livid.”
Robert Greaves, secretary of the club’s girls and ladies’ teams, said he was extremely frustrated with the ruling and had enlisted Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves for help.
He said: “It seems to be a rule designed for professional clubs and it’s the same rule for everyone - which is not appropriate. You can see that if one club is running an academy and looking after young players, they don’t want other clubs enticing them.
“But this is a girl, 14-years-old, who is at a school in Leeds and wants to play football. She didn’t play competitive football for any senior teams in Spain, so what’s the problem?”
Carmen told the YEP: “I really enjoyed the training, and the girls at the club were really helpful. They were a really good team so I’m gutted I can’t play.”
The FA last night confirmed it was a FIFA regulation, under which she was unable to play.
A spokesman from FIFA said international transfers of registered players are only permitted if the player is over 18, with few exceptions. He added: “The same rules also apply to the registration of foreign minor players who have never been previously registered.”
He said each decision is made by a sub-committee appointed by the Players’ Status Committee.