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Philippe Piat, president of the French footballers’ association UNFP and vice-president of FIFPro, speaks in French daily Le Monde about the situation of Peguy Luyindula, a player who is persona non grata at his club Paris Saint-Germain, because he wants to remain with the club until the end of his contract, on 30 June 2012.

 

For reasons that are still obscure, Peguy Luyindula, a footballer employed by Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), has been excluded from the first squad since the beginning of the 2011-2012 season. PSG is refusing to apply the decision of the legal commission of the professional football league (Ligue de Football Professionnel, LFP), which on 10 November ordered the reinstatement of the 32-year-old former French international (6 caps).

 

Luyindula has decided to take his case to the labour tribunal, which will deliver its verdict on 20 March 2012. His action is supported by the French union of professional footballers. Its president, Philippe Piat, feels that this affair could jeopardize the balance of the relations between clubs and players.

 

Le Monde: What’s the problem in “the Luyindula affair”?
Philippe Piat: ‘The French Charter for professional football was amended at the request of some clubs who wanted to create a second training team for players recovering from injuries. The UNFP agreed to the adoption of this provision, which would enable a trainer to prepare his matches better. On the condition that putting a player into the second team wasn’t the consequence of punishment, that it only lasted a short while, and that, except in the case of a dispensation, the two squads would train under identical conditions. PSG is not respecting to these provisions.’

 

In general, it’s more like the clubs condemning the caprices of players who want to change clubs?
‘But what happens when a new trainer arrives and doesn’t want such and such a player any more? The trainer and the team manager put unbearable pressure on these players to get them to leave.’

 

‘The fact is that PSG wants to sell Peguy Luyindula, whereas he intends to remain with the club up to the end of his contract. It should be possible to penalize a club that doesn’t want to comply with the decision of the League, which has requested the reinstatement of the player in the pro group. There are certainly salary deductions for players penalized by their employer. It’s recommended that transfers during the winter transfer window be limited to a single player per club, if only to avoid ruining the relations between clubs and players. People frequently point their fingers at the frequently staggering commissions taken by agents. This would be a good way to limit them.’

 

Could the arrival of foreign capital, like that from Qatar at Paris-Saint-Germain, bring about a new deregulation of French football?
‘That’s a matter of opinion, but we may suppose that for the Qataris, the question of labour law isn’t a major concern. All the same, however, there are rules that have to be respected. I don’t understand why the club has got itself into this tangle. It would have been simpler, in view of the storm in the media, to put Peguy Luyindula into the first training team, if only to let him take corners.’

 

Peguy Luyindula has decided to appeal to civil justice...
‘Yes, for we are confronted by executives who don’t want to respect the legal texts and the decisions of their own institutions. But if we start involving the resolution chamber whenever there’s a dispute, things may become dangerous for French football. For the decisions of the civil courts, which will apply the law strictly, will inevitably work against the specificity of football as enacted by the Charter for professional football. This text, unique in Europe in derogating from the common law, hitherto seemed to suit the club presidents. They should perhaps fear civil justice a little more and mend their ways.’

 

Could this affair affect your relations with the club presidents’ union, the Union des Clubs Professionnels de Football (UCPF)?
‘Social dialogue has finished. Our relations have been getting worse ever since the clubs became financial companies, and since the crisis arrived. For example, club presidents are pressing for the abolition of the winter layoff, which is an indispensable rest period for players. This is the only time that footballers can enjoy their children’s company on holiday. And they call us reactionaries...’