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Turkish club Trabzonspor handed out more than 200,000 euros of fines to a player -- after he sought a similar amount of unpaid salary.

The club sanctioned Ozer Hurmaci for so-called offenses such as arguing with a public notary (78,100 euros), missing training while injured (107,500 euros) and bringing guests to club facilities (8,960 euros).

Clubs imposing fines to discount unpaid wages has repeatedly been ruled as illegal by football tribunals.

However, the Turkish football federation’s tribunal (Dispute Resolution Chamber, or DRC) upheld the fines and banned 30-year-old Hurmaci from football for six months for refusing to pay the fines.

FIFPro is backing an appeal filed by the Turkish players union to overturn the ruling. Hakan Unsal, president of the Turkish union, said the tribunal’s decision to support the club was appalling.

“We are shocked by the verdict, as is the rest of the Turkish football community,” Unsal said.

The dispute between Hurmaci and the club arose in July 2016 after he disagreed with a fitness test on an ankle injury by a private hospital that he needed only three days’ recovery time for a stress fracture.

What is a DRC?

Each national football federation oversees a Dispute Resolution Chamber (DRC) to rule on conflicts between players and clubs.
Typically, these tribunals take the form of a three-person panel, with a chairperson and two arbitrators - one picked by each side.
However, not all DRCs are recognized as independent by FIFA because of the way these panels are constituted.
As part of a new cooperation agreement announced last week, FIFA and FIFPro agreed to work with other football stakeholders to ensure  there are impartial panels in every country.

 

The test was carried out at a Medical Park, a hospital chain with close links to Trabzonspor. Medical Park sponsors the club and its chief executive Muharrem Usta is the club’s president.

Hurmaci sought additional medical opinions at a public hospital and a university hospital. Doctors at both hospitals said he should not return to action for between two and three weeks.

When he refused to take part in preseason training because of the ankle injury, the club began to impose a series of disproportionate fines and ordered him to train in isolation from the first-team squad.

He was also fined for not complying with the club’s medical advice (20,400 euros) and not being present at the preseason training camp (13,400 euros).

Hurmaci correctly followed the federation's procedure to leave the club in August 2016 on the grounds of non-payment of salary, according to Turkish player union officials.

Unsal, president of the Turkish union, said Hurmaci's case increases doubts about the independence of the Turkish fooball federation's tribunal. Even before the ruling, the tribunal was not recognized as independent by FIFA.

“This is a step back for footballers’ rights and puts in doubt the impartiality of the Turkish football federation’s dispute resolution chamber,’’ Unsal said.

The ruling also sets a dangerous precedent, Unsal said.

“This verdict will encourage other football clubs to pursue unlawful sanctions and fines against players,” Unsal added.

Trabzonspor is one of Turkey’s biggest clubs, and competed in the UEFA Europa League or UEFA Champions League in each of the last seven seasons.

Hurmaci (pictured below after scoring for Trabzonspor) now plays for Osmanlispor, another Turkish first-division team. His six-month ban is suspended pending the appeal process.

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