UEFA to act over abuse of players in Eastern Europe

Reuters, Thursday 22 Mar 2012

UEFA has promised action to try and stamp out abuse of professional footballers in Eastern Europe, according to world players’ union FIFPro

FIFPro, who last month unveiled a so-called ‘black book’ detailing cases of players being mistreated in the region, said an agreement to tackle the problem was signed on Thursday by European soccer’s ruling body UEFA at its annual Congress.

“In the coming three years FIFPro and UEFA will collaborate closely to tackle matters such as the non-payment of players’ salaries and to guarantee players’ contracts are respected,” said FIFPro in a statement.

“FIFPro and UEFA will also address other urgent problems such as match-fixing, violence towards players, racism and discrimination.”

FIFPro has often complained that players in Eastern Europe are subject to threats, violence and non-payment of salaries as well as being invited to take under the counter payments.

In one of last year’s most notorious cases former Montenegro international Nikola Nikezic said he was forced to end his contract with Russian Premier League club Kuban Krasnodar after being beaten up and threatened with a gun.

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In November, Krasnodar striker Spartak Gogniyev had his ribs and nose broken during a match at Terek Grozny when he was attacked in the tunnel by men wearing police and Terek uniforms.

FIFPro were infuriated when Gogniyev received a six-match ban.

In the same month, players of Croatian first division FC Karlovac boycotted a match against FC Rijeka because they said they had not been paid for seven months.


“This is a good step on the road to better working conditions for professional footballers in Eastern Europe and naturally also for the rest of Europe,” said Philippe Piat, president of FIFPro’s European division.

“We’re not there yet but we have taken the first step. We are pleased UEFA and all affiliated football federations now finally acknowledge the problems that we described in the Black Book Eastern Europe.

“We are fully confident we will be successful in tackling this very urgent problem in the coming years,” added Piat. “We will have to be patient, for the solution to these issues naturally requires time.”

UEFA president Michel Platini mentioned the problem during his address to Congress.

“In some countries players sign or terminate contracts under pressure or threats. This cannot be tolerated. We must do more to protect the players, without whom there would be no football,” he said.

“Violence, match-fixing, illegal betting, doping, pressures and threats against players, flouting contracts, trafficking of young players, money laundering - these scourges exist.

“They exist in society and they exist in football. It is up to us to fight them, with the help of the public authorities. Let us protect the players, let us protect the game, let us clean up football,” added Platini.

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