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FIFPro is furious because the Serbian football association has started a criminal investigation into statements made by Dragisa Pejovic during the presentation of the FIFPro Black Book Eastern Europe.

The Serbian football association (FSS) has filed a criminal complaint against Dragisa Pejovic with the public prosecutor for statements made by the former professional footballer during the press conference held by FIFPro last Tuesday in Brussels on the occasion of the presentation of the FIFPro Black Book Eastern Europe. The football association is demanding that Pejovic provides proof for the statements he gave in Brussels.

Furthermore, the disciplinary committee of the football association has started a procedure against Pejovic. This is said to be considering suspending the player for life.

Dragisa Pejovic spoke last Tuesday during the presentation of the Black Book Eastern Europe. He told of his unpleasant experiences during his career as pro football player. He was confronted with non-payment, violence, threats, blackmail and match fixing. About the latter Pejovic said that, under enormous pressure from the club management, he had participated in manipulating matches.

Today Pejovic is an amateur; disillusioned he has left professional football behind. He now has to live from benefits, because financially professional football has brought him nothing. 

‘This is unheard of’, rages Theo van Seggelen, secretary general of FIFPro. ‘The player is now the victim. The football association should be seriously addressing the abuses in Serbian football, because there are a lot of those. Players are not paid, players are extorted, players are abused, and players are forced to cooperate in match fixing. That is what the Serbian association must address.

‘This reaction by the Serbian FA highlights just how dire the situation in Serbia and other countries in Eastern Europe is. The position of the professional footballer under employment law is simply lousy.

‘Instead of getting to work on the accusations from Dragisa Pejovic and a number of other players in Serbia about the high level of abuse, chairman Tomislav Karadzic and his colleagues in the football association prefer to protect the people who are really responsible. Unbelievable!’

Since hearing about the criminal investigation, FIFPro has contacted Emine Bozkurt, Member of the European Parliament, and rapporteur on sport for the Committee of Justice, Civil Liberties and Home Affairs. Van Seggelen about that contact: ‘I was very pleased with the reaction from Mrs. Bozkurt, who told us that immediate contact will be made with the Serbian football association to inform them that an investigation will be started by the European Parliament.’

‘FIFPro’, concludes Van Seggelen, ‘is fully behind Dragisa Pejovic and the Serbian trade union for professional footballers, Nezavisnost. They all have the good of Serbian football in mind, they have stuck out their necks and because of this are now facing enormous pressure in their own country. That is why they deserve the complete support of all their colleagues worldwide.’