'Top footballers are being blackmailed'

Wesley Sneijder

FIFPro is urging an end to what it calls blackmailing of certain players by top clubs. With reference to reported Manchester United target Wesley Sneijder, what do they mean and how can it change?

FIFPro, the union for professional football players, has called on clubs to stop blackmailing players involved in contract disputes. The organisation has suggested that clubs deliberately freeze top class players out of the side, deliberately affecting their form because they will no sign a new contract.

The perfect contemporary example is Wesley Sneijder at Inter Milan. The Dutch winger has been in and out of the side all season long because he is in a dispute with Inter Milan over a new contract at the club. Instead of sorting the situation out quickly, FIFPro has suggested that Inter are blackmailing Sneijder by affecting his professional life and well being.

Although FIFPro makes a very good point, it is difficult to see how this can be changed because the manager or other officials at a club will always put the exclusion of a certain player down to tactical reasons which cannot really be questioned by a third party outside the football club.

“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,” said FIFPro in a statement.

The whole issue effectively suggests that players at top European clubs are now taking a risk that they will be bought by another side if they refuse to sign a new deal. That leaves the player in a very awkward situation if a transfer window comes and goes without a transfer. A good example of this is Carlos Tevez at Manchester City.

Tevez publicly said that he hated Manchester and wanted to leave Manchester City. AC Milan tried to sign him but he couldn’t get a transfer deal sorted which meant he was forced to go back to City on his knees and beg for forgiveness to be let back into the side.

It’s also important to point out that a lot of players in similar situations to Sneijder will have bonuses and clauses in their contracts that are dependant on them playing. This could be a goal bonus, a clean sheet bonus or an appearance fee. This is where the talk of blackmail comes into the equation a little bit more over a player who simply sits in the stands and takes his wages every week.

Football is now such big business that clubs have more power than ever before. FIFPro is quite right to stand up for the players it represents but it’s difficult to see any form of regulation or law coming into effect soon which will change the current situation.

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