- Associated Press - Friday, September 9, 2016

MADRID (AP) - Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane has called FIFA’s decision to uphold its one-year transfer ban against the club and rival Atletico Madrid “absurd.”

The former France midfielder said Friday he is especially angry because the ban will keep two of his own sons from playing for the club’s youth teams.

“It’s absurd that they can’t play,” Zidane said. “I don’t understand it, it bothers me and the embargo is unjust.”

However, Zidane said that the ban shouldn’t hurt his team’s chances of fighting to defend its Champions League title nor its quest for its first Spanish league crown in five years.

“I am happy with the squad we have,” he said. “It is deep and I have 24 players at my disposal.”

On Thursday, FIFA upheld its decision from January to ban Madrid and Atletico from signing new players until January 2018 because of rules violations regarding the protection of underage players. The teams can make deals to sign players but cannot register them to play during the ban.

Both clubs have denied breaking the rules regarding the signing of teenage players, whose registration was accepted by the Spanish Football Federation, and have said they will be appealing to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Fellow Spanish club Barcelona received a similar ban in 2015. It struck deals to acquire Arda Turan and Aleix Vidal during the ban, but couldn’t register them to play until the ban was over.

That ban certainly didn’t hurt Barcelona’s performance as it won Champions League, Spanish league and Copa del Rey titles in 2015.

Barcelona coach Luis Enrique said that he sympathizes with both rival clubs.

“What did I say about our ban? That it was unfair. Well, I am not changing now,” Luis Enrique said. “We overcame our sanction and won titles anyway. It won’t stop Madrid and Atletico from having great squads.

“They will have to deal with the ban, whether they like it or not. I just hope they don’t have the same results as we did.”

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