These players possess signed documents saying how much money they are owed by one of the agents, Hector Gutierrez. One of them is owed more than 7,000 euros.
In October, FIFPRO’s Legal Director Roy Vermeer received confirmation from Rotceh Master Agency that the players would be reimbursed, but the agency still hasn’t reimbursed the players and has cut off all forms of communication since.
FIFPRO advises players to file criminal charges with the local police if they have been the victim of fraudulent behaviour.
How players lost thousands of euros to Rotceh Master Agency
The four players who informed FIFPRO about what happened are Conor Borg, Jean Paul Farrugia, Rowen Muscat and Maurizio Vella. They are from Malta and Italy. Farrugia and Muscat are both Maltese national team players. The four stated that various other players are still owed substantial sums of money.
They were all in touch with Rotceh Master Agency, whose director Hector Guteirrez told them in May that Emirati club Ras Al-Khaimah (RAK Club) was interested in signing them. His agency, which also includes Carlos Ranno, was going to take a 50 percent stake in the club that had already invested millions to return to the league.
The players believed his story. They saw photos of the stadium, which was being renovated, and knew the coach who was going to be hired. They also liked the salaries, which ranged between 8,000 and 10,000 euros per month.
Gutierrez told the players that they had to pay a commission that he needed to give to a club manager, who would then convince the club president to sign them. “That’s how they do business over here,” he explained.
The players also needed to pay for their travel costs, but these would be reimbursed. Gutierrez reassured the players by giving them signed documents that stated how much he owed each player.
The players expected to get a contract upon arrival in Dubai in August, however, Gutierrez, who is from Venezuela, told them that Rotceh were waiting for money to arrive from South America and that they needed to pay their 50 percent share to the Arab club. When that would be arranged, RAK would give the players their contracts.
In the meantime, the players were training with local players from RAK Club. After two weeks, they were joined by South American players, including four young Colombians (18-20 years old) who said that together they paid 30,000 euros to Rotceh.
After the first two weeks, the players had to pay for food and cars themselves. They ended up sharing one car between 13 players and coaches.
About one week later, the players signed contracts. However these were never registered with the football association and they never received a copy of their contract with the signature of the club president.
They kept asking Gutierrez for their registered contracts, and he would tell them the same story again and again: they would get them in two days’ time or next week. They had to be patient.
Gutierrez instructed the players and coaches not to contact the club directors, as he would take care of business himself. However, when the players grew tired of waiting, they spoke with the Arab owners and when they realised that they weren’t getting any valid contract, the players left.
Some players lost up to five months of income and wasted a significant portion of their careers, some even lost their place in their national team.
One of the players, who arrived with his wife and daughter, had even terminated the contract with his previous club to join RAK Club.
“We are telling our story, because we want to warn other players,” one of the players said on behalf of all four.
“If we lose our money, then so be it. We are more concerned that Hector will do this again. He has done it with us, and we’ve heard similar experiences from other players who were tricked by Hector into coming to Malta and also lost a lot of money.”
“We want to warn other players, as we know that Hector and Rotceh Master Agency are once again trying to find new players. Don’t believe him, everything he says is a lie.“
Top photo: Rotceh's Hector Gutierrez (left) and Carlos Ranno (right)