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As many as 50 trapped footballers who have not been paid for months are expected to start proceedings to quit 14 Romanian clubs from tomorrow (Friday April 22nd) when new legislation comes into effect.

The Romanian based players’ union AFAN has successfully campaigned to amend an insolvency law that treated their members as assets because of their transfer market value and did not allow them to join another team without the permission of administrators.

The new legislation will affect as many as 300 footballers at 14 cash-strapped first and second-division clubs, according to AFAN. They include players of Rapid Bucharest and CFR Cluj, which played respectively in the UEFA Europa League or Champions League as recently as 2012.

Players of second-division Metalul Resita (pictured) wrote slogans on their t-shirts such as "slaves" last year after not being paid for up to 10 months. After losing an away match, they were abandoned by the team bus and had to find their own way home.

From tomorrow, players who have not been paid for three months can file an application with the Romanian football federation and will be free to leave in “two to four weeks,” according to Aurora Dohatcu, a legal advisor at AFAN in Bucharest

“We are receiving a lot of calls from players asking for advice, and we expect to be very busy next week,” Dohatcu said. “Some of them have given us power of attorney to represent them.”

As many as 50 footballers might try to leave immediately because of the law change, Dohatcu said. Many of the remaining 250 unpaid players at the 14 clubs could choose to stay on in the hope that management will turn around their financial situation, she said.

AFAN President Emilian Hulubei and General Secretary Dumitru Costin led the challenge to change the law by lobbying politicians and publicizing the plight of players.

In January, the mother of Rafael Kneif, a Brazilian at FC Ceahlaul made an appeal to FIFA, UEFA and other football authorities to help release her son from the Romanian second-division club after receiving interest from teams in Italy and England. “He’s a human being and should be treated like one,” Adriana Kneif said. She said she had to send her Brazilian credit card to help her son pay for food.

Kneif’s contract runs out in May, when he will become a free agent, so the law change may have come too late to help him.

Romanian football authorities did not support AFAN in its campaign to change the law.

“We won this victory on our own,” Hulubei said. “It is the first time we have been able to change a financial law in 20 years of trying.”

Photo (below): CFR Cluj in action against Manchester United in the UEFA Champions League group stage in 2012. Today, the Romanian club is insolvent.

 

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