See what's happening on Facebook Twitter YouTube Flickr

FIFPro-Worlds-players-union-mobile-logo

FIFPro gives one hundred per cent backing to the players of Racing de Santander, who on Thursday evening decided not to play their quarter-final game for the Copa del Rey.

"The players have taken a drastic decision", said FIFPro President Philippe Piat. "But this clearly illustrates how far their desperation had gone. The players had no alternative but to opt for this measure. They are footballers, and what they enjoy most is playing football."

"But they are also professional football players, who defend their work. They have to earn money for their families and for themselves. That is a right they have, but it appears that there are people in the club who think quite the contrary, and those who see it as normal to keep their players without payment for four months."

The action of the Racing players did not take FIFPro by surprise. As representative of all the world's professional footballers, FIFPro knows the calamities suffered by many players whose rights are systematically trampled on. "If we don't change the system, there will be more actions like those of Santander. Let's not make any mistake: football players and their unions in all the world's countries have been paying attention to their Spanish colleagues and have shown them their support."

"These players - and many others like them - are victims of the current transfer system, which does not defend their fundamental rights and promotes abuse. Players are considered to be little more than objects to be used and thrown away. This is the result of a deeply flawed and illegal transfer system, which allows clubs to squander money irresponsibly, instead of spending it with good sense."

"The action of the Racing players is a new signal, warning that it's essential to do something urgently in order to save football."

A game that was not played

The players of Racing de Santander were confronted by a terrible dilemma. On the one hand, the sporting challenge of playing in a semifinal for the Copa del Rey, being classified third before Barcelona, the current national champions. And on the other, their own principles. Tired of waiting four months for the payment of their wages and hearing empty promises from the club president, Ángel Lavin. In addition, there would be consequences if they decided not to play: sanctions from the Football Federation and other parties who felt themselves to have been injured if the players did not go into action.

But their decision left no room for doubt, as trainer Paco Fernández put it after the 'game': "I want to give thanks to my players for their courage. Today was the most important game of our lives and we have exchanged it for dignity."

The midfield player Javi Soria and the forward Mariano Sanz spoke in the name of the group of players. Javi Soria: "These are moments of sadness, but also of joy on the other hand. It's a pity things had to come to this extreme. We have been clear about this since Monday. Let's hope there won't be consequences, for we are doing this for the good of football".

Mariano Sanz: "We've given up the thing we like most: we wanted to play, but we didn't want to see our rights trampled on. Playing in the quarter finals was a dream for us, everything would have turned out very well. It's a pity things have ended this way, but it was clear to us".

A good number of representatives of the Association of Spanish Footballers (AFE) visited Santander to support the players. After the meeting, president Luis Rubiales said: "The players have more than sufficient legitimacy. I don't have words to describe everything they have had to bear, and how this board of management have put them in this predicament."

Some stars of Spanish football——Gerard Piqué, Borja Valero and Álvaro Negredo——expressed their support via their Twitter accounts. 

No sanctions for the players

On Friday, the FA decided not to sanction the players for not playing the match. The club – Racing de Santander – was eliminated from participating in next season's edition of the Spanish Cup competition. The club also received a fine of 3,006 euro.

Also on Friday, President Ángel Lavin was unanimously dismissed by the Board of Directors. Former player Juan Antonio Sañudo was appointed to replace him.