It is not illegal to sign a contract with players under the age of 16, but Man City found another way to do that.
have been accused of giving a fake role at the club to the father of one of their former academy players.
Gabriel Fernando Almeida
joined the Citizens when he was 2014 in 20122 and was too young to sign a professional contract with the club. However, he was considered a highly potential playmaker and Man City didn’t want to miss him in the future.
Premier League rules for that season stated:
"No club shall induce or attempt to induce a player to become registered as a student by that club by offering him, or any person connected with him, either directly or indirectly, a benefit or payment of any description whether in cash or in kind."
His father has been given the role of scout in Manchester City to convince the family to sign a contract with them in future. He attended only two scouting sessions in the club while he didn’t even know English. According to reports, he was being paid around £1,000 between September 2011 and June 2012.
Speaking to The Athletic, in Portuguese, Almeida said:
“The truth is that they paid me but I did not work. In truth, they tricked us because I do not speak English. They did arrange for me to take a course in scouting. I went to the classroom on two occasions, to appear there at the course. It was inside Manchester City.”
City deny the allegations levelled against them, with a club spokesperson stating:
“The limited records that exist given the nature of the work involved and the significant passage of time of almost a decade, suggest that Mr Almeida (Snr) was a casual scout for a period within Gabriel’s time with the club, for which he was reimbursed expenses.”