Chelsea's investigation of potential violations of FIFA's transfer rules has expanded to examine agreements with more than 100 foreign players under the age of 18, sources from ESPN FC confirmed.
The Disciplinary Board of the governing body is considering its final decision, with Chelsea expected to be banned from transferring if it is found guilty.
The key to Chelsea's defense against any sanctions is the argument that many of the individual cases highlighted by FIFA include short-term experienced experts who have not signed up. There is no rule against testing foreign players under the age of 18 and the club does not believe that they should be taken into account in the final decision.
FIFA transfers regulations prohibit clubs from signing players under 18 from other countries unless their parents have emigrated for reasons not related to football, or both players and a club are located within 50 km of the national border.
The only other exception to this is Article 19, which allows players between the ages of 16 and 18 to be transferred within the European Union or the European Economic Area.
Chelsea's Academy is being investigated for potential violations of the 2016 transfer rules when images of Bertrand Traore, who plays for the club against Arsenal in a non-competitive match as a 16-year-old, appeared.
The club said it had received approval from both the Football Association and the Premier League to play Traor in test games. He left Stamford Bridge to join Lyon for 8.8 million pounds in the summer of 2017, although it is understood that Chelsea reserves the right to buy it back for an agreed price.
If a transfer ban is imposed, Chelsea will have the right to appeal to FIFA and then to the Sporting Arbitration Court (CAS) if necessary.
FIFA has already investigated Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid for violating the rules governing the signing of players under the age of 18, and each club was subsequently banned from transferring two windows despite the fact that Madrid's penalty was reduced up to one window at CAS appeal.
Chelsea declined to comment when contacted by ESPN FC but made a statement in November stating that they "fully co-operated with FIFA and provided comprehensive evidence showing its compliance with the applicable FIFA regulations."