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French player union files criminal complaint to protect players against harassment


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  • French player union UNFP files criminal complaint against extortion and harassment

  • This season 180 players in France have been put under pressure to accept new contract terms or a transfer move

  • This practice is against the French football charter and labour law, and could therefore constitute criminal offences

French player union UNFP has filed a complaint with the public prosecutor in Paris to protect professional footballers against clubs that fail to comply with the country’s professional football charter and who are extorting and harassing players.

The practices are widespread. Since the beginning of this season, the UNFP noticed that 180 players have been put under illegal pressure by their club to extend, terminate or change their contract, or accept a transfer move by separating them from the first squad. The most prominent example is Kylian Mbappe, who last summer was banned from the first team of Paris Saint-Germain for 24 days because he refused to extend his contract with one extra year until July 2025.

Another victim is Anatole Ngamukol, who decided to go to the employment tribunal, which after a four-year case found his former club Stade de Reims guilty of wrongful dismissal, and convicted the club’s general manager for moral harassment.

In France, these acts are against the French football charter and labour law. Exercising moral constraint on a person to force them to consent with or terminate a contract is even a criminal offence, knowingly extortion.

The UNFP expected that the football federation (FFF), the League (LFP) and the government would enforce that clubs stop this illegal practice. However, this didn’t happen.

Whatsapp Image 2024 01 16 At 14.04.26
Anatole Ngamukol with UNFP President Philippe Piat and UNFP Vice President David Terrier

The UNFP’s leadership and Ngamukol were even removed by police from the FFF’s headquarter when they wanted to discuss this with the federation’s leadership. And a few weeks later, the police also expelled them from the sports ministry.

Last year, 857 professional footballers in France signed a petition organised by the UNFP stating that they want the clubs to respect the football charter. This Tuesday, the UNFP has asked law firm Temime to file the complaint with the prosecutor of Paris. The legal action does not target any specific club or side, as it is deemed a common practice and many clubs are involved.

“The UNFP takes great care here to protect each of the players concerned, today and yesterday, by choosing to file itself a complaint on behalf of all professional footballers playing in France and it asks the prosecutor of the Republic of Paris to conduct a preliminary investigation and to initiate criminal proceedings against any person that the investigations will make known,” the UNFP said in its statement.