AFP Lausanne, Switzerland
FIFA yesterday urged clubs and players to reach agreement on wage reductions to protect clubs suffering financial damage due to the coronavirus crisis, sources said.
The call from world football’s governing body comes as Premier League clubs are locked in talks with players and their representatives about taking pay cuts after government ministers called on players to “play their part”.
Italian top-flight football clubs yesterday agreed to cut the salaries of players, coaches and staff. Clubs in other countries, including Barcelona, have also cut player wages.
FIFA is also recommending that players’ contracts be extended until the end of the interrupted football seasons and that the transfer window does not open until that time.
The source said the health crisis had had “a major impact” on clubs’ revenues and that, like other sectors of the economy, football had to find “fair and equitable solutions” to protect jobs.
Therefore FIFA “strongly encourages clubs and players to work together” to find agreements on a range of issues, including salaries.
It is common practice for European player contracts to run until June 30.
Players whose contracts expire this summer include Manchester City’s David Silva, Willian at Chelsea, or Paris Saint-Germain’s Thiago Silva and Edinson Cavani. At the moment, they will be free to leave on July 1 even if the season has not been completed.
Given that the European seasons are suspended and there is no fixed date to resume at the current time, the source said FIFA proposes that contracts should be extended “until such time that the season does actually end”.
A statement FIFA has prepared and which has been seen by AFP said: “With the current suspension of play in most countries, it is now obvious that the current season will not end when people thought it would. Therefore, it is proposed that contracts be extended until such time that the season does actually end.”
“A similar principle applies for contracts scheduled to begin when the new season starts,” it said. “Meaning the entry into force of such contracts is delayed until the season actually does start.”
In Italy, where all football has been suspended since March 9, clubs in Serie A agreed on Monday that player salaries will be reduced by a third of their gross annual earnings if the season should be cancelled, and a sixth if it resumes.
Individual agreements must still be signed between the clubs and players, who will waive between two and four months’ salary.
The decision was reached unanimously by Serie A clubs, with the exception of Juventus, which had already reached an agreement with its own players, said Lega Serie A.
Juventus said the salary cuts accepted by its players and coach Maurizio Sarri over the period from March to June would have “a positive impact of 90mn euros on the 2019/2020 financial year”.
In Spain, where Barcelona players, like their English counterparts, had been criticised for not agreeing a pay cut, six-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi announced last week that the squad had agreed to a 70 percent pay reduction as the club faces a loss of revenue.
“We clearly won’t manage to earn what we had been expecting to,” Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu said.
Atletico Madrid’s players quickly followed in agreeing a similar pay cut.
In France, both the broadcasters who show Ligue 1 matches have refused to pay the latest instalments called for in their contracts. Several clubs, including Lyon and Marseille, have placed their squads on partial unemployment.