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FIFPro wants to talk to FIFA, UEFA and the European Commission about measures to adjust the behaviour of a growing number of clubs.


FIFPro - the worldwide trade union for professional footballers - signals a growing number of players who are put under pressure to prolong their contract. ‘For clubs, football seems to have become more like business. Football comes in second place.’


This is no new phenomenon. A club forces a player with a contract nearing expiry to sign a new contract. If the player refuses, the club puts him on the reserve bench or in the grandstand. This professional footballer doesn’t get a chance to play any more. Only when he has signed a new contract he can resume playing.


The two most striking examples at the moment are Wesley Sneijder (Internazionale, Italy) and Fernando Llorente (Athletic de Bilbao, Spain). Sneijder’s contract runs until the middle of 2015. Inter has demanded that the Dutch international extend his contract until 2016, but then for exactly the same total salary. In other words, to work a year longer without receiving any salary for it. Sneijder refused and since then, coach Andrea Stramaccioni has kept the playmaker outside the match selection.


Llorente has a contract until the middle of 2013. Last summer, the Spanish international refused to sign a new contract. Since then, coach Marcelo Bielsa has kept the striker on the bench. He has only come into action as substitute. Only last summer, Llorente was in the selection of the European champions Spain, while he was also one of the main players for Athletic, which reached the final of the Europa League in May.


Sneijder and Llorente are not the only players, says FIFPro secretary general Theo van Seggelen: ‘This type of practice used to be an exception. Unfortunately, we now see clubs in all countries in Europe using this type of measure. For us, the time has come to sound the bell’, said Van Seggelen to the Dutch Volkskrant newspaper and NOS Radio.


‘Clubs say that players must respect contracts, but why should that not apply in reverse? It is not as if Sneijder has taken a gun to the head of the board of Inter to force them to submit that contract. The club offered it to him with their full understanding.’


FIFPro plans to bring up this problem with FIFA, UEFA and the European Commission. Van Seggelen: ‘The way in which contracts are handled is also a disaster for FIFA and UEFA.’


‘Winning a match is something you do with your best players. It seems as if football is increasingly becoming more of a business, football is taking second place and that is unacceptable for us.’


‘I do not understand how it benefits a club not to play a player. As club, you are damaging the career of that player. And then? Do you benefit from that as club?’


FIFPro understands that in financially difficult times, clubs want to reduce players’ salaries. ‘But if you want to offer a player a lower contract, you must only do that at the end of his current contract.’