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Enrique Saravia, president of the Uruguayan professional footballers' union (Mutual Uruguaya de Futbolistas Profesionales), has revealed to daily El Observador that Mutual is putting at risk the start of the Uruguayan Championship, because it is not prepared to begin the tournament while clubs are making players sign unfair contracts.


Mutual is calling on the Uruguayan Football Association (AUF)'s Court of Arbitration to rule that all wage claims that were submitted before the start of the Apertura ('Opening Season') must be paid.


The union has called a meetingto discuss these matters. At the meeting, the union's directors will seek powers to negotiate with the AUF executive.


What are the claims of the football players' union?


'Unfair contracts are being produced. The clubs are inserting clauses, whereas by agreement we have only a single contract. They are putting in many non-existent clauses', Saravia told El Observador.


He said some clubs were making players sign contracts until the end of the season, whereas, according to the Statute (Estatuto del Futbolista Profesional), such agreements should be for 12 months. This situation, he said, was not new, but has been happening repeatedly in recent years. So the union wants to clear things up.


Another matter Saravia mentioned concerned faults notified to the AUF for which football players have been claiming money.These derived from a Court of Arbitration finding that payments to players had been delayed. Mutual wants to prevent this situation, and it intends to put the Championship on hold until pending cases are resolved.


'We talked about this topic at our last meeting with the executives. The idea is that everyone should be paid before the tournament can begin. Some cases were submitted six months ago but are still waiting for a ruling. So players have been unpaid for four months in their team, and then six more months pass until the court rules: that's a year without being paid any wages', said Saravia.


Another reason for calling the meeting is changes to the player's Statute. 'We've had this on hand for years, and it never ends. They asked us to present the changes we wanted made to the Statute, but they answered telling us no, because these were all in favour of the players', commented Saravia. 'Now, a committee has been set up to analyse the topic: at least we're making headway with something.'


The most critical point in the Statute is players' licence dates. 'There are always problems with the licences because the clubs start the preliminaries for the Copa Libertadores. Of course, they then say that Mutual is to blame. They (the clubs) want to continue training in December', Saravia declared. The players will meet to analyse the situation again, and the executive committee will ask the members for powers to negotiate with neutral parties and ensure that the Professional Player's Statute is respected.