Olimpija Ljubljana

Slovenian player union files criminal complaint against club to protect footballers against mobbing


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Olimpija Ljubljana
  • Slovenian player union SPINS filed a criminal complaint against Olimpija Ljubljana and club’s management

  • The union said the club bullied, harassed and humiliated four players

  • FIFPRO strongly supports the Slovenian player union and condemns any unlawful behaviour by football clubs aimed at forcing players to terminate or change contract terms

Slovenian player union SPINS has filed a criminal complaint against the country’s reigning champions Olimpija Ljubljana and the club’s management. Slovenian labour law protects workers by providing legislation against discrimination, termination of contracts for unfounded reasons and workplace bullying.

According to SPINS, four players – Pascal Estrada, Marko Mijailovic, Rui Pedro and Mustafa Nukic – were bullied, harassed and humiliated by Olimpija Ljubljana.

They were banned from training with the first team to either force them to agree to a contract extension (Estrada and Pedro) or with terminating their contract (Mijailovic and Nukic). The players were not allowed to attend the first team’s training camp in Turkey and had to train with the U-19 team in Slovenia. To justify the players’ absence from the training camp in Turkey, they were ordered to undergo Covid tests or MRI scans without apparent reason.

Mustafa Nukic
Mustafa Nukic scores for Olimpija Ljubljana
Pascal Estrada
Pascal Estrada in action for Austria U-21
Dejan Stefanovic
SPINS President Dejan Stefanovic

SPINS noted that at several press conferences the club openly spoke about mistreatment of players, putting the club’s interest above the law and beyond binding provisions in the closed standard contract, which state that all professional players in Slovenia have to train with the first team at the same time and place, under the guidance of the first team coach and without any discrimination.

FA rules also forbid any abusive conduct of a party aimed at forcing the counterparty to terminate or change contract terms. After several reminders to the club were unsuccessful, the Slovenian player union felt it had to resort to the harshest measure available.

The players have recently terminated their contracts by mutual agreement, except for one player, who is still separated from the first team. Marko Mijailovic was forced to terminate his contract by mutual agreement a year-and-a-half before it expired, Austria U-21 international Pascal Estrada left for an Austrian club after payment of compensation, and Rui Pedro signed with a team in Turkey just before the transfer window closed, after the club had turned down several better offers when he was separated. 

SPINS and FIFPRO condemn any form of bullying and harassment. This kind of behaviour is damaging to players’ careers and can also affect their mental health. Players who find themselves side-lined for a longer, unknown period, have a limited chance to further develop their careers, and feel humiliated because they have to train with youth teams instead of the first team. All stakeholders need to think about eradicating the systemic failures that give sports clubs the opportunity to carry out such serious breaches of contract and jeopardise players’ careers and health.