Rennes have confirmed they have reported Manchester City to FIFA over the alleged poaching of French youngster Jeremy Helan.
City manager Mark Hughes signed the teenage defender earlier this year after he reportedly decided against seeing out his first professional contract with Rennes.
Helan, who was a target for Manchester United, opted to join City, much to the anger of Rennes who insist that his pre-contract agreement tied both him and the club to a contract if he represented France at youth level.
If found guilty of inducing a youngster to break a contract City could find themselves in the same position as Chelsea who were recently banned from signing new players until January 2011 over their pursuit of Gael Kakuta.
City are understood to be confident that they not induced a breach of contract, but Rennes believe that the case is even more clear cut than the one involving Kakuta.
“Manchester City must now realise the consequences of their attitude in the Helan case as it is even more illegal than Kakuta,” Rennes’ technical director Pierre Dreossi told The Independent.
“We have referred this to FIFA. For us it was strange to have no discussion from City and now, in the week after the FIFA declaration on Chelsea, I would hope that it will be the same thing for Manchester City.
“Kakuta signed up for just a possibility of a full contract. For Helan there was definitely one there, under the terms of the pre-contract agreement, because he had played for his country.
“Manchester United said it was not possible to negotiate with us but for City now this is dangerous, though we are not expecting a decision from Fifa for perhaps several years.”
Fifa said in a statement: “We can confirm that there is a case pending with Fifa’s Player Status Department involving Jeremy Helan, Stade Rennais FC and Manchester City.”
City are expected to contest the complaint, and are likely to argue that there was already a civil court dispute in France between Helan and Rennes before they signed the teenager.