Theo van Seggelen, Secretary General of FIFPro

Worldwide soccer players face modest wages, late payment and initimidation shows survey

The world soccer players’ union FIFPro publishes a survey that highlights low wages, few holidays and other poor working conditions faced by players around the world.

LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (NOVEMBER 17, 2016) (REUTERS) – Far from the image of fast cars and mansions, soccer players around the world face low wages, delayed payments, bullying and intimidation, according to a survey published on Tuesday (November 29).

Sixty percent of the 14,000 players interviewed in 54 countries earned less than $2,000 a month and four in ten had experienced late payment at some stage in the last two years, the survey conducted by the world players’ union FIFPro said.

Just under one third had less than 10 days’ paid annual leave and the average contract length was just over 22 months.

“To be honest, it was even worse than I thought it was,” said FIFPro general secretary Theo van Seggelen.

“I think that we ring a bell and I hope that with these figures, everybody will wake up. It is a wake up call for clubs, it is a wake up call for the governing bodies – not to say how good we are, we have done this – no, it is a wake up call and we really see it as a possibility to change it and to urgently change it because cannot, any longer, accept that.”

“Not every footballer has three cars in three different colours,” he added.

FIFPro said that the survey, produced in conjunction with the University of Manchester, covered countries in Europe, North and South America and Africa.

Unions from several key countries, including England and Spain which boast two of the world’s richest leagues, did not return completed surveys. However, this was offset by the number of developing countries which were also excluded, FIFPro said.

On wages, the survey found that only a tiny minority, 0.9 percent, earned over $100,000, per month or more, while 20 percent earned $300 a month or less.

Forty-one percent said they had experienced delays in being paid although this figure rose to 79 percent in Malta, 75 percent in Turkey, 74 percent in Romania and 96 percent in Gabon.

Van Seggelen said that, although players could go to FIFA’s dispute resolution chamber after a three-month delay, this was not viable in practice as they had to wait two years for a decision.

“You can make the collective bargaining agreement as strong as you want, like in the Netherlands, like in France. That is the ideal situation. But you have to start somewhere and you have to start from above before you can change that and that will cost time. But I think that in six months that FIFA can, in the next congress, change the regulations. Why not?”

A lack of job security was also a problem with the average contract length of 22 months, although in Brazil, Ireland and Israel it was lower than one year. Eight percent of players said they did not have a contract at all.

Just under 10 per cent of players said they had suffered physical violence off the field, either from fans, team mates or club management, and 16 percent said they received threats of violence.

Scotland and Italy were reported as hotspots for intimidation.

Thirty-four percent of respondents from Scotland reported threats of violence on a match-day from fans while the figure for Italy was 23 percent, level with Brazil.

Clubs sometimes bullied players when they wanted them to leave and six percent said they had been made to train apart from the rest of the squad.

Van Seggelen said the onus was on national federations to draw up stricter regulations although the ultimate responsibility lay with soccer’s governing body FIFA.

“You need to have a licensing system in which it is forbidden not to pay the players on time and if they are not paying the players, there have to be sanctions,” said Van Seggelen, adding that such a system existed in most of Western Europe.

“If a federation is not willing to do it or is not willing to do it in a proper way, they you must have the guts to say that they are not playing qualifying games any more with the national teams.”