is only 16 years old, but we seem to have known him for years. In 2012, Soccer America first reported
about the selection of a 12-year-old American from Barcelona's youth academy to a U.S. under-14
national team camp held by Hugo Perez
at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.
In the subsequent four years, Lederman was often in the news. He was banned by FIFA from playing
for Barcelona, returned to the United States to play for the IMG Academy in U.S. Soccer's Development Academy in 2015-16 but is now back training at Barcelona's famed La Masia academy, which produced
, Andres Iniesta
, Gerard Pique
and Carles Puyol
On Monday, Barcelona confirmed that Lederman was finally eligible to play again, for
its Juvenil B (U-18) team.
Lederman was one of 10 Barcelona youth players cited as irregular signings by FIFA, which ruled them ineligible for games until age 18 and banned Barcelona from
signing new players in 2015. Only recently has FIFA started cracking down on teams violating what it calls Article 19 “Protection of Minors.”
With only a few exceptions, the
rule bans teams from registering players from another country under the age of 18. It was intended to protect young players, mostly from Africa and South America, who were lured to Europe by
unscrupulous agents and ended up on their own away from their families when things didn't work out.
Those impacted by the rule included Lederman, who joined Barcelona’s academy at
age 11, and other young Americans who have tried to move to Europe and Mexican-Americans under the age of 18 whom Mexican clubs no longer are able to register.
The major exception
concerns transfers within the territory of the European Union and allows players age 16 to 18 to move. That allows players who hold a passport from one European Union member to move to a club in
another European Union member. (A new Mexican federation rule categorizing Mexicans players as those who resided in Mexico before they were 19 narrowed the window to one year during which
Mexican-Americans can sign with Mexican clubs and not count as foreigners for the purposes of the federation's controversial 10+8 rule.)
Holding a passport from a European Union
member has allowed other young Americans to sign with European clubs, most notably, Christian Pulisic
, who signed with Borussia Dortmund and debuted for the German club last year at the age of
17. Pulisic qualified because of the Croatian passport he obtained because his grandfather was a Croatian citizen.
Barcelona stated Lederman was now eligible because he is 16 and a
citizen of a European nation. The club did not name the country but Lederman is believed to have obtained a Polish passport.