FIFA, the international governing body of football, has come down heavily on three Italian clubs for illegally transferring Nigerian minors.
The three clubs punished are Italian Serie A club Spezia Calcio and lower-league sides USD Lavagnese 1919 and Valdivara 5 Terre.
FIFA slammed Spezia with a two-year transfer ban, maintaining that the American-owned club broke transfer rules when it recruited players under the age of 18 from Nigeria.
FIFA, according to The Athletic, said the club was guilty of “bringing several Nigerian minors into Italy using a scheme aimed at circumventing (transfer of minor rules) as well as national immigration law”.
The international transfers of players are only allowed if the player is over the age of 18, which means that, as far as minors are concerned, international transfers are technically prohibited.
The two other Italian lower-league sides were punished for “having played an active role” in the scheme.
Aside from not being able to sign any new players for the next two seasons, Spezia were also hit with a fine of CHF 500,000 (£394k).
The club can appeal the punishment, which would be frozen in the event of a hearing. It is unclear when the incidents took place.
Spezia, who last week appointed former Italian international Thiago Motta as their new manager, finished 15th in Serie A last season.