The Czech professional footballers’ association, CAFH, and FIFPRO are making significant steps that will benefit players in Czechia.
The two player bodies, together with other stakeholders in European and Czech football, are on the verge of finalising important revisions of the standard player contract and the national dispute resolution committee (NDRC), which will hopefully be implemented before the 2023/24 season kicks off.
Recently in Prague, representatives of CAFH and FIFPRO met with colleagues from UEFA, ECA, European Leagues, the Czech Football Association (FACR), the Czech league (LFA), and representatives of four clubs – Sparta Prague, Slavia Prague, Viktoria Plzen and FK Teplice – as part of the European Social Dialogue for Professional Football.
David Broukal, a defender for SK Dynamo Ceske Budejovice, explains how the upcoming revisions would benefit him and his fellow players in the country.
By David Broukal
It is good to be a professional footballer in Czechia. To me, it is a dream come true. I think it would be the same in every country; as long as the team and the players are good, then that is all that matters. Here in Budejovice, we have a fine team. And the city is fantastic.
I have been moving up the ladder. I started in the third division, then signed with a second-tier club, and last summer I joined my current team which plays at the highest level.
It is difficult to compare the working conditions in the first and second division, even though they are both professional leagues. In the first league everything is arranged very well and the salary is good, but the situation is difficult in the second league. There are only a few players in the second league who can save something of their salary for rainy days.
I was fortunate that I was able to put something aside because my parents supported me. I lived with them until I was 24, as I was also studying. For most second league players, though, it is difficult.
Some people say that the second league should be semi-professional, but I don’t agree. When it comes to the amount of work that the teams and players put in, then it is almost identical to teams in the first division. You have at least two days with two training sessions, you train every morning, and you play one match a week.
I expect things will improve with the revised standard contract that includes a minimum wage that is respected by all clubs. Currently the minimum wage is not respected and, as a consequence, it is hard to live off the money that some teams are offering – especially for players in the second league’s bottom teams. Some players have a job next to their football careers, while others are living with their parents to get by.
All ‘regular’ workers in Czechia have a minimum wage. So, why wouldn’t we professional footballers have the same minimum wage, just like other workers in the country?
There is also a side to football that people don’t always realise: the psychological side. When you are a professional footballer, you are not just playing for yourself, you are playing for the whole team. You can have worries about relegation, or you realise that the owner and the fans are getting nervous.
When you lose some games, people write messages saying that you didn’t give one hundred percent, but you can simply have a bad day. Everyone can have a bad day. I don’t know any player who would go on the pitch and not want to perform at 100 percent.
For example, we recently played a bad game against Teplice (0-3 home loss), even though we were giving our best. Taking these circumstances into account, then I think we at least deserve a minimum wage that is respected.
Something else that needs to be addressed is the self-employment status of players. Most footballers in Czechia are self-employed, and thus not employees of the clubs. One of the consequences of that is that after we have received our salaries, we still have to pay taxes and social security premiums. There will be a final tax bill that is not easy to calculate in advance, because a substantial part of our income consists of bonuses. The total amount of bonuses is different each season, as it depends on the team you play for, its results, your number of appearances, and more.
If we were an employee of a club, then our taxes and social security contribution would be automatically dealt with by the club. Everything would be much clearer. I would be able to save more money for my retirement, and I wouldn’t have any problems with accountants. Last time I almost had a heart attack when my accountant told me how much I still needed to pay to the tax office.
It is important that all parties in professional football – the federation, league, clubs and players – jointly discuss how they can improve the standing and the quality of the league and the employment situation of the players. We should also make the most of this opportunity by sharing our experiences and ideas when our union visits our club.