Transfer ban not a distraction, says Martino
By Football News
Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino insists his side will not be distracted by the fall-out from the club's FIFA-imposed transfer ban.
The Catalan club were slapped with a transfer embargo effective for the next two windows for irregularities in their dealings at youth level earlier this week.
Barca were found to have breached rules in making 10 signings between 2009 and 2013, but have since confirmed their intention to appeal the sanction.
Martino's men host La Liga's bottom club Real Betis on Saturday hoping to keep pace in an enthralling three-way title race.
Second-placed Barca are one point behind leaders Atletico Madrid and two ahead of third-placed Real Madrid, and could also claim the Copa del Rey and the UEFA Champions League trophies this term.
And Martino knows that Barca cannot afford to be affected by the off-the-field controversy that has enveloped the club.
"It is much easier for the players to focus on football, because ultimately that is our job," Martino said.
"We are informed, but our attention is on the match against Betis because that is the most important thing.
"For a team that faces the possibility of 12 games in three competitions it is important not to deviate from our objectives."
Barca were dealt a blow with defender Gerard Pique suffering a hip injury in the 1-1 Champions League quarter-final first leg draw with Atletico Madrid on Tuesday.
Pique's injury, which is set to keep him out for around four weeks, came less than a week after Victor Valdes suffered a cruciate ligament tear in the 3-0 win over Celta Vigo.
But despite those blows, Martino is adamant his side will have no excuses for any potential slip ups in the title race.
"There is no possible or valid excuse, neither injuries nor problems outside of the football," he added.
"If we win we'll have had a good season and if we don't win we won't have had a good season. We are the first people who don't want excuses and we accept the situation as it is."