FIFPro condemns a court ruling supporting a contract between Belgian club Anderlecht and a 12-year-old boy’s parents.
The Brussels court ruled the parents of Jason Lokilo – who now plays for Crystal Palace* -- must pay Anderlecht 140,000 euros because he did not stick to their agreement to sign professional terms with the Belgian club when he turned 16.
Lokilo was 12 when his parents, in return for 75,000 euros, signed a contract that he would sign for Anderlecht. If he did not sign, they would have to pay a penalty.
“It is astonishing that a court approves such a monstrous agreement – this is clearly unacceptable coercion,” Wil van Megen, Head of FIFPro’s legal department, said.
“The fact that we are in the world of football does not justify that fundamental rights of minors are flouted.”
“An employment agreement is a very personal contract,” Van Megen explained. “This means that apart from the worker no other party can conclude such an agreement.”
“Basically this construction is about selling future child labour.”
FIFA endorses these labour law principles and has translated them into binding regulations which define the relationship between all clubs and minors.
Next to that, FIFA has included other regulations to protect minors, as football clubs look for ways to capture talented players at the youngest age possible. Players under 18 are not allowed to sign a contract for a term longer than three years.
“After the end of the third year, the player is free to leave the club unless he explicitly or de facto accepts the extension,” Van Megen said.
FIFA regulations (article 18.2) do not allow any attempts by clubs to circumvent or violate this provision unilaterally.
Therefore, any agreement between a 12-year-old’s parents and a club clearly flouts FIFA rules, Van Megen said, adding that from a labour law perspective this construction clearly infringes the freedom of labour.
“When a 12-year old player turns 16, he will probably have to sign for the maximum period of three years and will be stuck with the same club for seven years.”
The threat of a penalty in this construction could also hurt the negotiation position of the player to achieve the best possible deal.
“It goes much too far to turn a minor under such pressure in order to sign a labour agreement.”
*Jason Lokilo (18) is currently a member of Crystal Palace Academy.
Article 18.2 FIFA Regulations (RSTP)
The minimum length of a contract shall be from its effective date until the end of the season, while the maximum length of a contract shall be five years. Contracts of any other length shall only be permitted if consistent with national laws. Players under the age of 18 may not sign a professional contract for a term longer than three years. Any clause referring to a longer period shall not be recognised.
- Published: 28 February 2017