FIFPro, the Trade Union, for global professional football players says clubs need to stop blackmailing key players who refuse to sign new contracts.
FIFPro has suggested that Inter Milan midfielder Wesley Sneijder and Athletic Bilbao striker Fernando Llorente are two recent examples of players who are being treated unfairly by their clubs as a result of their stance over current contracts.
The Union is suggesting that these players and many others are being oppressed by their clubs who refuse to select them for first team matches and leave them out altogether as a form of blackmail or punishment in relation to contract negotiations.
FIFPro said in a statement:
“For clubs, football seems to have become more like business. Football comes in second place.
FIFPro signals a growing number of players who are put under pressure to prolong their contract. This is no new phenomenon.
A club forces a player with a contract nearing expiry to sign a new contract. If the player refuses, the club puts him on the reserve bench or in the grandstand.
This professional footballer doesn’t get a chance to play any more.”
However, it’s important to reflect on the player power that current professionals have at clubs. For example, Sneijder is one of the best paid players in European football and Inter Milan have the Dutchman on a long contract which means he’ll earn a tidy sum for the rest of his career even if he’s not playing.
Llorente is an individual who is undoubtedly one of the best players at Bilbao. His urgency to leave for another European side and his unrest within the dressing room put the manager in a compromised situation where he has to judge what’s best for the team and the football club.
Therefore, it can be argued that a football club choosing to exclude a certain player from the first team is simply a reaction to do what is best for the unity and longevity of the side.
If a club has a player who is demanding certain things in a new or existing contract or certain options, the best way to stop that player from being a disruptive force in the side is to remove him from it altogether.
A player is naturally going to be unhappy if his club won’t pay him what he wants or won’t grant him a move away from the side. Therefore, the anger within that player grows and resentment starts towards the club he’s contracted to. It’s not blackmail from the football clubs, it’s simply a reaction.
The only instance where a club could be considered to be treating a player unfairly is deliberately leaving him out in the knowledge that he has a goal bonus or an appearance fee in his contract.