By Paul Nicholson
January 4 – The world players union FIFPro has issued a stark warning to players not to sign contracts with clubs in Serbia during this month’s transfer window. The union points to worsening working conditions in the country where players are rarely paid on time and where they are generally pressured into transfers.
To make matters worse, the Serbian FA has dismissed key members of its National Dispute Resolution Chamber, the body that rules on disputes between players and clubs.
Instead the members of panel chosen by the players’ union have been replaced by officials with links to the country’s biggest clubs, Red Star and Partizan Belgrade, as the chamber’s chairman and vice-chairman who generally have the casting vote in disputes.
FIFPro says that the composition of the new disputes panel means footballers have “even less chance of receiving fair treatment.” FIFA regulations state that the disputes panel should be made up equally of arbitrators appointed by clubs and players.
The situation in Serbia was already pretty desperate for professional players with FIFPro’s Global Employment Report finding that 68% of players in Serbia do not receive their salary on time, while “89% who were traded to their current club for a fee were pressured into the transfer.”
Players wanting to bring a dispute before the panel now also have to pay an increased fee to do so while, incredibly, all cases opened under the previous dispute resolution chamber have been ordered to start again under the new regime.
“This is a flagrant violation of the fundamental rights of the professional football players in Serbia who are now effectively playing in a lawless environment,” FIFPro General Secretary Theo van Seggelen said.
“We call upon the Serbian Football Association to immediately reverse its decision.
“Until this situation is resolved we strongly advise players not to go and play football in Serbia.”
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