Players play for the love of the game and the money. All well but cash will only arrive if payments can be enforced. Enforcement requires a solid contract. Here-under a few tips regarding the first step in salary collection: a good contract!
- Understand what you read
- Take your time
- The minimum requirements
- Attach a value to benefits
- Describe not guaranteed income
- Careful with due dates & grace periods.
- Insert DRC arbitration clause
- Get a copy of the contract.
- Get legal advice
Let's kick of with two tips that appear redundant but are often forgotten in the heat of the moment:
Understand what you read
Make sure the contract is in a language that you understand. In event of a dispute arbiters have no lenience for a player who does not understand the language that his employment contract is drawn up in.1
Take your time
Don't let anyone pressure you into signing anything you do not understand. Don't fall for 'don't you trust us', 'all is fine', 'the transfer window expires' etc, etc. Keep you calm, take your time and make sure you understand the content of the contract.
The minimum requirements
The next 4 elements form the minimum requirement for a valid employment contract.2
Details of Player and Club
The contract should contain the names and and details of the parties involved. Players often don't remain long at the same address therefore choose address with relatives for and save will yourself the burden of informing a club of every address change.
Term of the contract
Define the start and end date of the term. When a contract stipulates that the term is the '2015 season' the question remains when that season starts and ends which can lead to unpleasant surprises. Be specific.
It is preferred that a net salary is stipulated. Make sure that the sign on fee and monthly payments are specified. There should be no misunderstanding possible regarding the total value of the guaranteed salary payments and sign on fee. Seek advice of a tax consultant when a club insists on gross amounts in the contract.
Make sure the contract is duly signed by the club. Without signatures there is no valid contract.
Attach a value to benefits
A contract normally mentions benefits such as housing, a car, tickets etc, but what is meant with housing, a container or a luxury beach front villa? What is meant with a car, a 30 year old Fiat 500 or a brand new Bentley? It is preferred to enter indisputable amounts in the contract instead of vague notions. Make sure the payment for benefits does not depend on whether or not costs for these benefits are really incurred.
Describe not guaranteed income
Clauses for bonuses that depend on having played full or partial played matches often give rise to disputes when these notions are not properly defined. Use an exact amount of minutes to describe full or partial played matches. That will prevent a lot of problems. Similar when there is a reference to 'matches' it should be clear what type of matches are meant: official, friendlies, league matches, cup matches or all? Good definitions prevent a lot of problems.
Careful with due dates & grace periods.
The due dates for payments are important. The period(s) that must have elapsed before a player:
- can send a default notice (30 days) 3,
- file a complaint with the DRC (10 days after default notice)4 or
- terminate for just cause,
starts on the due date(s).
The due date is also the date of 'the event giving rise to the dispute' as referred to in art 25.5 RSTP. When two years have passed after the due date a player can't file a claim against the club anymore with the DRC.
Special attention deserve the so called 'grace periods'. When a club is granted a grace period it will not be in breach until that grace period has elapsed!5 Avoid grace periods and make sure the first payment due is on or shortly after the date of contract signing. Cash has to start flowing the player's way a.s.a.p!
Insert DRC arbitration clause
Many of the clauses that try to avoid that a player turns to the DRC in case of a dispute are not valid but some of them meet the requirements of art. 22.b RTSP6 Take no risk and insist that the contract contains a stipulation that disputes regarding the contract will be submitted to the DRC7.
Get a copy of the contract.
Do not leave the room without a signed copy of the contract. It happens too often that a player is asked to sign a contract without receiving a signed copy himself. 'The president will sign it tomorrow', 'We have to send it to the FA for registration first', etc, etc. Make sure you have a copy signed by the club no matter what.
Get legal advice
An employment contract between a player and a foreign club is not only subject to national labor law and national football regulations but also to international law, treaties and FIFA regulations. The tips mentioned above only try to highlight a few of the subjects that are important but are by no means a complete guideline. Seek legal advice before you sign! .
A new employment contract should be the start of a new prosperous era but can also be the start of a lot of misery that will have no good ending when no experts have been consulted at the signing or termination of the employment agreement.
This article is the first in a series of 2 regarding collection of salaries and other payments due to a player. The second article is planned for week 33, 2015. In the meantime you can ask legal assistance via this contact form.
DRC 2014-11-27, 1114239, Â§ II.8 ↩
DRC 2014-11-27, 1114239, Â§ II.11 ↩
art. 12bis.2 FIFA Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players 2015 ↩
art. 12bis.3 FIFA Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players 2015 ↩
DRC 2014-01-06, 11141064, Â§ II.16,17 ↩
FIFA's Dispute Resolution Chamber ↩