American-owned Italian club Spezia was hit with a two-year transfer ban by FIFA on Friday for breaking transfer rules when it recruited young players from Africa.
FIFA said the case involved the Serie A club ``bringing several Nigerian minors into Italy using a scheme aimed at circumventing (transfer of minor rules) as well as national immigration law.''
The ban in registering new players runs through the 2022-23 season, and the club must also pay a fine of 500,000 Swiss francs ($544,000), FIFA said.
It was unclear when the incidents took place or when FIFA began an investigation that also involved lower-tier clubs USD Lavagnese 1919 and Valdivara 5 Terre.
United States investor Robert Platek bought the club in February.
Spezia placed 15th in Serie A last season and appointed former Italy midfielder Thiago Motta as coach this month.
The club can appeal the sanction and ask for the punishment to be frozen pending a hearing.
That could allow Spezia to register new signings during the current transfer window that is open through August.
(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)