Players in all four national divisions are shielded from a club going bust by a fund which is managed by national player union Asociación de Futbolistas Españoles (AFE).
When Ernest Forgas was a player for Reus B, a club from Tarragona in the fourth tier, he went five months without being paid. The club subsequently went into administration owing 700,000 euros in wages.
AFE lawyers visited the squad to reassure them.
“They told us you might have to wait a little but your pay is 100% guaranteed,” Forgas said.
Within three months of the season ending, Forgas and his teammates received a bank transfer from the fund for the money they were owed. Reus, which was founded in 1909, subsequently shut down.
AFE administers a fund for players in the top two divisions under an agreement with the league, and a fund for those in the third and fourth tiers under an accord with the national football federation.
The funds are derived from revenue that is generated by Spanish football.
FIFPRO’s Shaping Our Future report is pushing for more such regional salary protection schemes for players exposed to unsustainable governance.
FIFA recently set up a global fund with FIFPRO for players who have exhausted legal means to get their unpaid salary.
The fund is massively over-subscribed. Some 1,400 players have claimed $61 million of wages from 2015 to 2020 for a $5 million allocation.
The claims are from all over the world from countries including Greece, Malaysia, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia Turkey, Uruguay and Venezuela.
The ‘Shaping Our Future’ report highlights how players are the victims of market failure through no fault of their own. Spanish club Reus is among at least 50 clubs that have shut down around the world in the five years through 2020.
Forgas, who now plays for third-tier Badajoz, is grateful for the salary-protection fund during what was a difficult moment for him and his teammates.
“It is stressful worrying about money, especially if you have a family to support,” Forgas said. “Knowing you will be paid gives you tranquility.”