La Liga club Atletico Madrid have reported their domestic title rivals FC Barcelona to FIFA for making an illegal approach for their French forward Antoine Griezmann.
Griezmann, 26, who signed a contract with Atletico in the summer lasting until 2021 to ward off interest from numerous suitors such as Manchester United amidst a transfer embargo placed against the Madrid club.
However, he became the subject of increased speculation over recent days after Barca’s director of institutional relations hinted it was “possible” that the club’s president, Josep Maria Bartomeu, had held talks with the 26-year-old’s family.
This goes in direct violation against FIFA rules, which say that a team interested in signing a player must first make contact with his club before being allowed to hold negotiations, with Atletico therefore taking the case towards the world governing body.
“Atlético Madrid have reported Barcelona for repeated contact with Griezmann and his people, contact which we are aware of,” a spokesman for Atletico told Mundo Deportivo. “He is a player with a contract with Atlético Madrid and a long contract at that.”
A FIFA spokesman has confirmed that the complaint had been received.
Griezmann has a release clause in his contract set at €100m (£88.4m) but a report last week suggested that Barca’s technical director Roberto Fernandez having already held talks with the Frenchman’s entourage, with Guillermo Amor later admitting the club are interested in signing him.
“If that’s what the newspaper said, it’s possible …” Amor told Movistar+. “Maybe there’s been a meeting and things have advanced, although I don’t know. Rumours are inevitable in football.”
“In the case of Griezmann, there are a lot of players we could be talking with, initiating some kind of relationship if there’s an opportunity. We’re obliged to have contact with players. It’s something which is done.”