Professional soccer players urged against signing for Serbian clubs
Professional footballers have been urged not to sign for clubs in Serbia because there is a good chance they will not get paid.
FIFPro, the world players' union, and the Serbian players' union have warned players of severe financial problems in Serbian football, with eight of the 16 teams in the countries SuperLiga unable to pay employees after having their bank accounts blocked by the Serbian national bank.
"We hate to do this, but it is our job to protect the players", FIFPro secretary general Theo van Seggelen said in a statement.
"Players haven't been paid for months and encounter serious financial problems. Clubs are on the verge of going bankrupt.
"On top of that, I received the shocking news that one of the clubs totally disrespects the players' rights and even allows hooligans to threaten their players."
FIFPro said players at FK Radnicki 1923 were threatened by fans earlier this month after deciding to go on strike because they had not been paid for three months.
The Serbian players' union said there were 115 cases concerning "overdue payables" at the national dispute resolution chamber
Its president Mirko Poledica said the situation was "alarming" and added: "There are only approximately 500 professional footballers in Serbia.
"We would not be surprised if some of the clubs file for bankruptcy in the near future.
"Therefore we must send a message to all countries and recommend all foreign footballers not to come to Serbia, because there are no guarantees that they will be paid."
FIFPro said many players at Radnicki, who had not been paid since August, were struggling to pay for food and some had been evicted from their homes.
"There are players who lack the money to buy milk for their children", Poledica said.
He highlighted one player who has only received one month's salary since joined the club, adding: "He only received 1,000 euro in four months, but this is not enough to cover four months' living expenses . Serbia is an expensive country."
The players' union has offered financial support of 200 euros to all its members at Radnicki, but Poledica said: "But that is not a structural solution. There are more clubs with similar problems, we cannot pay all the players."
Radnicki players announced on December 1 they would strike and FIFPro said that two days later a delegation of supporters were allowed into their changing room to talk to them.
It said these fans "insulted the players and threatened to beat or stab them with knives if the players were to continue their strike".
It continued: "One of the more experienced players, Vuk Sotirovic, was hit in the face when he tried to reason with the supporters and protect his younger team-mates."
Radnicki did play their home match against FK Vojvodina on December 7 and FIFPro said during the match supporters displayed various banners with insults and threats directed to the players.
Poledica said: "One of the banners even stated that Vuk Sotirovic could be murdered."
In the wake of that match, seven players left the club, according to the Serbian players' union.
Poledica said: "They feel they cannot provide for their basic needs while playing at FK Radnicki."