The next Lionel Messi? Stubborn FIFA frustrating American wonderkid Ben Lederman

The Ledermans are one of the millions of families around the world who decided to leave everything behind and chase their dreams in a different environment. In their case, it was partly because of their talented son Ben being particularly great at soccer or, to call the sport by its correct name, football.

The American wonderkid, as it couldn't be any different, was approached by many European clubs so that he could develop his skills under the supervision from the best coaches on the planet. After much deliberation, Ben Lederman accepted an offer from Barcelona and his whole family moved to the Catalan capital as a result.

Although the story until that point sounded more like a fairy tale than reality, the situation turned ugly very quickly. FIFA decided to ban Barcelona due to what they called "repeatedly breaking transfer regulations of international under-18 players". According to FIFA, 'Under-18s can move to a club in a different country if their parents move there for non-footballing reasons, if they are from another nation within the European Union or European Economic Area and aged between 16 and 18, or if they live within 100km of the club.'

As a result, the now 15-year-old Ben is one of a dozen youngsters who, despite living in Barcelona with their families, are not legally allowed to take part in any competitive matches. While they have permission to train with their teammates, their progression is being clearly affected and their chances of ever succeeding at professional level keep shrinking day after day.

Danny Lederman, Ben's father explained: “It is killing him. And as his dad, it’s killing me, too, to see him like this. A year? Kids need to play; he practices, he practices, he practices, but he can’t play? It’s not right. I understand the rule was made to protect kids from being pulled away from their families. But our family made a choice to move to Spain together. Why should FIFA be able to tell our family where it has to live if we want our kid to play soccer?”

Personally, I literally can't believe that the life of a talented youngster can be pampered with in this manner, especially with the full support of his family. Knowing that any musician, actor or sprinter would be competing without a problem only makes the situation more frustrating.

While I don't doubt that FIFA may have originally written the rule to protect children who may have been exploited, the success story of Lionel Messi shows that the biggest organisation in world football should definitely grant some exceptions to the rule in specific situations such as that of American wonderkid Ben Lederman.

Think about it this way: If 13-year-old Lionel Messi had come to Barcelona in 2011, he would not be allowed to play any official matches until next year, after his 18th birthday. Would La Pulga have ever been able to fulfil his potential and become a quadruple Ballon d'Or winner? Doubtful.

Let's hope newly elected president Josep Maria Bartomeu has enough charisma and persuasive skills to convince FIFA that updating their obsolete, nonsensical rules is not only an idea to be seriously considered, but an imperative necessity.

The Quote: “We have roots here in Barcelona, we have jobs here, we have visas. We chose to live here as a family. That is what’s so frustrating.” -- Ben Lederman's dad, Danny.