The players – together with the President of the Serbian players’ union SPFN - took these drastic measures after it became clear that the authorities in Serbia refuse to act against the sporting successor of FC Borac, a club called FC Borac 1926.
In 2019, FC Borac experienced financial difficulties and was expelled from the Serbian first league, leaving many players unpaid. It then paid a small amount to a local club named FK Provo, which changed its name to FC Borac 1926.
FC Borac 1926 is now playing in the same stadium as FC Borac, has the same coach and the same persons sitting on the board, but it refuses to pay the former players of FC Borac.
FIFPRO has long advocated against this unscrupulous practice by which clubs clean up their balance sheet, and avoid paying players and other creditors, through changing the legal entity running the club.
Matic, a Serbian national-team player, offered his support to the players. "I want to say that you are not alone," he told them in a video which was posted on the union's Facebook page. "I am with all of you."
The Dutch players’ union, VVCS, previously challenged the same practice in a case against the Bulgarian club, CSKA-Sofia which has been pending for 8 years and has been appealed a second time to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
The first decision laid the groundwork for an amendment to the FIFA Disciplinary Code. Under the amended FIFA Disciplinary Code, the sporting successor of a club will be held liable for the debts towards former players of the ‘old’ club.
In Serbia this practice still continues leaving many players unpaid and without recourse. With the Football Association of Serbia refusing to implement a similar rule as FIFA, local players do not enjoy the same level of protection as their international colleagues.