Red Star Partizan HH 2500

Serbian club reacts to coronavirus shutdown by paying wages early

08 April 2020
In Serbia, footballers like other employees are feeling the impact of the coronavirus. Those at the biggest club, Red Star, have had their pay cut. But others have seen strong support from their employer: players at one team received three months of pay in advance, says Mirko Poledica, President of Serbian player union SPF Nezavisnost.

Poledica, a former player of among others Sparta Prague and Borac Cacak, is in constant contact with players, who have been in lockdown since March 15th.

According to the World Health Organization, Serbia has 58 deaths and 2,200 people who have tested positive on Covid-19.

 

How are the players coping?

“We have a lockdown in Serbia and you are not allowed outside from 5 p.m. until 7 a.m. So the players are training at home, inside or outside in their backyard. They train individually mostly. But I have also seen some videos of a group training, where every player joins in online from his home.”

 

What is their biggest worry at the moment?

“The number one topic in our country is salary reduction. A lot of players have questions about it. In Serbia, as in some other countries, there was fake news circulating about FIFA and UEFA recommending clubs to reduce player salaries by 50 percent. The biggest club in our country, Red Star, immediately reacted and announced plans for a 50% reduction. However, we were informed by FIFPRO that this recommendation was incorrect and I communicated that to media. The directors of Red Star and Partizan didn’t like that and released a joint statement that I was lying and that I and the union were a threat to the existence of football in our country.”

 

What is the most challenging part of your job?

“Most of the times when Red Star and Partizan make a decision, other clubs copy that decision. However, professional footballers have employment contracts in Serbia, which means that clubs cannot reduce player salaries unilaterally. They need permission from the players. So, if necessary, we hope that, with the help of the FIFA guidelines to address the impact of the coronavirus, we can have constructive meetings with clubs about how to solve problems. Last weekend, Red Star players agreed to reduce their salaries by 50 percent until June, but only on the condition that the club would pay all its salary arrears before April 15th.”

 

Have more clubs announced salary reductions?

“No. And I must mention that we have some positive exceptions. FK Mladost Lucani and FK Indija promised that they will continue without pay cuts. And there is one club, FK Cukaricki, which has paid the players’ salaries until June in advance. This is a great example of a club without any financial problems.”

Mirko Poledica 1100
Mirko Poledica

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