Union: Soccer clubs not paying in Eastern Europe

The union representing professional soccer players said Tuesday

its members are mistreated financially by clubs in Eastern Europe,

which can lead to the greater risk of match-fixing.

In a study of thousands of players in a dozen nations, FIFPro

said clubs from Greece to Russia show a ”terrifying lack of

respect” for the fundamental rights of professionals, ranging from

withholding wages to beatings.

Poland and Ukraine, which co-host Euro 2012, are among the

financial culprits.

FIFPro, which has threatened to hold up the start of some UEFA

Champions League matches unless the situation improves, said by

refusing to pay players, clubs were directly pushing them toward

match-fixing schemes as a way of financial survival.

FIFPro said FIFA and UEFA failed to heed their calls, noting it

would be difficult to effectively combat match-fixing unless the

federations make sure players are well-treated and paid on

time.

UEFA said it had no comment on the report.

”To organize a strike internationally is of course difficult

but – why not should we show the world if they don’t change the

situation,” said FIFPro Secretary General Theo van Seggelen.

Delaying the start of a Champions League game would play havoc

with the orchestrated schedules designed for maximum revenue, some

FIFPro delegates said.

In the survey of 3,357 players in 12 eastern European nations,

representing up to 70 percent of top-division players in some

nations, FIFPro found that 41.4 percent did not get paid on time,

with 5 percent having to wait six months or more.

”A player who has to wait for his money has a greater chance of

being approached to manipulate a match. What’s more, he is

vulnerable,” stated the study, titled the ”Black Book Eastern

Europe.”

When it came to bonuses, often an essential part of players’

pay, only 53.4 percent said they received them on time. Almost 12

percent of players in the survey said they had been approached to

manipulate a match, and more than half of those who were approached

did not have their wages paid on time.

The study indicated 42.9 percent of players do not get their pay

on time in Poland, rising to 60.7 percent for bonuses. Almost 10

percent said they had been victim of racism or discrimination. The

Euro 2012 co-host Ukraine fared better, with 15.5 percent of

players not being paid on time.

FIFPro said fans were often blinded by the wealth of top players

and fail to realize 95 percent of players may find it tough to pay

mortgages and other expenses.

”As long as Manchester United, Liverpool, Barcelona and Real

Madrid and Juventus are all doing well, unfortunately the glare of

publicity does not shine on parts of the world where there are

major problems,” said FIFPro board member Tony Higgins.

Higgins said he was angered by UEFA and FIFA making the fight

against match-fixing a top priority yet not doing enough to get

players paid on time.

Almost 12 percent of players were victims of violence, in a

third of cases inflicted by their own clubs. The union highlighted

recent incidents in Russia where Montenegrin player Nikola Nikezic

said he was beaten into terminating his contract with FC Kuban.

”What these players meet is unbelievable,” he said, suggesting

the results would have been even higher had many players not

refused to cooperate because of fear of retribution.

Follow Raf Casert on Twitter at http://twitter.com/rcasert