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FIFPro is furious about the criminal behavior toward César Alberto Castro Perez, the professional footballer from Venezuela who last Friday was abused and threatened with a gun. Apparently two men wanted him to terminate his contract with Cypriot club Olympiakos Nicosia and to drop his claim for salary arrears.

 

César Castro’s story resembles the horrific incident that took  place last year, when Nikola Nikezic was beaten, strangled and threatened with a gun by Russian club FC Kuban representatives in order to obtain a termination agreement from the Montenegrin player.

 

‘What has happened to Castro, has absolutely nothing to do with sports’, says Theo van Seggelen, secretary general of FIFPro. ‘This is pure criminal behavior. We hope that the police will do their job and manage to find the perpetrators. If there is proof that Olympiakos Nicosia is involved in this incident, then FIFPro expects that this club will be sanctioned accordingly. This is an outrage.’

 

‘The most shocking part of this incident is, that I am not really shocked by it’, Van Seggelen confessed. ‘It is very disturbing to realize that Castro’s story does not surprise me anymore. Since the Nikezic abuse, FIFPro has heard many horrendous stories of players being mistreated. It seems to get worse every day.’

 

Three weeks ago, FIFPro published its Black Book Eastern Europe, a 176 page report about the problems professional footballers in Eastern Europe encounter. The results of this research generated a lot of attention. The media and the public were astonished after learning about the hardship of many players.

 

But the reaction from some very important stakeholders in professional football has been very disappointing, Van Seggelen admits. ‘We have sent the Black Book to all football federations from the countries that participated in the research. Most of these federations did not react. If they reacted, they reacted angrily.’

 

‘Some federations complained and stated that nothing is wrong in their country, regardless of what the players said. One federation refused to accept the Black Book and told the mailman to return it to FIFPro. One federation supposedly launched a public slander campaign against the country’s union leaders. One federation threatened to sue a player and threatened to take FIFPro and me to court.’

 

‘None of the football federations called us, or called our unions to talk about how to tackle the problems discussed in the Black Book.’

 

‘We have also sent several copies of the Black Book to UEFA and FIFA. FIFPro is still waiting for an official reaction.’

 

‘Apparently, the 3,357 professional footballers who participated in the Black Book research have a different view on the football family than the other stakeholders…’

 

‘Sadly, now we have a player abused and threatened with a gun on Cyprus. FIFPro strongly urges the Cypriot football federation to act and to investigate what happened at the club. This criminal behavior does not belong in football. We know that neither the Cypriot FA, nor UEFA or FIFA condones incidents like these. But it is time that they act accordingly.’

 

‘One year ago, after the Nikezic incident, FIFPro said that what has happened to Nikola Nikezic, should never happen again. Unfortunately it did. FIFPro wants it to stop, but therefore we need the help of all other stakeholders in professional football. Things like these will only disappear if the other stakeholders are willing to admit that something is seriously wrong in football. Things like these will only disappear if the other stakeholders are willing to clean up football. Our football.’

 

‘If the other stakeholders refuse to turn their attention to these problems, then I am afraid that there will be more incidents like the ones that happened to Nikezic and Castro.’