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Liga Santander: The legal limbo of players without a contract | LaLiga Santander 2019

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Thursday,
9
April
2020

02:32

Experts disagree on FIFA’s recommendation to extend all ties until August. The AFE does not contemplate any other scenario than the individual negotiations


Garay is one of the players who ended his contract on June 30 and his future at Valencia is in the air.
J.M. FERNNDEZ / MARCA

June 30th. That is the date that marks the end of the contracts for footballers in Spain, the last day of the official season and the start of the transfer market. The work rates of players and clubs are set for that last day of June. However, the coronavirus pandemic that has paralyzed all competitions could turn it into one more day than the remaining 11, perhaps the second if LaLiga forecasts are met, andcatch many players without a contract, either because their connection has ended and they have not renewed, or because the transfer to a certain team by those who have their federative rights expires.In what legal situation are these professionals?

The leagueand theAFE, employers and unions, are at odds over how and when the competition resumes and how it will affect these players whoare free in an environment of wage cuts and Ertes. Nor is there a unanimous position among the experts in sports law consulted by EL MUNDO, who warn of the need to reach agreements as quickly as possible and without resorting to the courts.Talksad hoc, extension of the season concept, and even government decrees …The options are various, but none are happy for the moment.

The only point of agreement is that FIFA’s proposal toautomatically extend contractsit is not viable and clashes with national legislation. HeDecree 1006/85, which regulates the labor rights of professional athletes, states in its article 6 that their contracts will always be of a determined duration, and that they can only be extended through agreements. The AFE clings to this legislation to defend that it is not possible to expand them unilaterally.We are in a situation of alarm, not of lawlessnessrecalls Mara Jos Lpez, co-director of the union’s legal adviser.

In these contracts, the fixed duration appears, both the number of seasons and the exact start and end date. And this is where the lawyerSantiago Nebotopen a door togovernment interventionto solve this problem. The Federation organizes the competition by delegation of the CSD, of the Government, and collects in article 187.1 of its Regulations that the official season will start on July 1 of each year and conclude on June 30 of the following year. However, this article could be modified due to the exceptional situation we are experiencing, as has been done with other decrees, which would allowadapt the definition of the season to what FIFA collectsin its Regulations on the Statute and Transfer of Players, details Nebot. These FIFA Regulations say that the season begins with the first official match of the corresponding national league championship and ends with the last official match.

In this way, as the contractual duration with the players could be interpreted according to seasons, the contracts could be in force until the end of the current one, beyond June 30. But probablythere would be players who would challenge this decision and it would be left to a judge, he warns. This is the path that the AFE started, understanding that it has occurreda modification in the substantial conditions of the contract. We are in a state of law and we are going to preserve it. I don’t think anyone wants to change the law. In addition, we believe that it is logical to reach agreements, but without putting pressure on the players, warns Mara Jos Lpez.

That individual negotiation would avoid lawsuits, but would turn the month of May into arenovations marketwhat should bead hoc, in the opinion of the expertJuan de Dios Crespo. I see no possibility of a generic AFE-Liga agreement. The solution will be individual negotiations, where player and club, even a third party with whom he could have signed in these months, agree to all the conditions. In fact, the lawyer warns that renewals could lead to adrop in wagesby the impact of the suspension, or that it is even the teams themselves who do not want to sit down to negotiate and leave the player unemployed until the opening of the next market window.

Contract of a professional player who follows the model set by the RFEF.
Contract of a professional player who follows the model set by the RFEF.E.M.

Contract by season or by exact dates?

The standard contract model of a professional player includes, in the duration clause, two concepts: season, on the one hand, and exact effective date, on the other. It is here where there is a loophole that the courts should settle and that generates doubts for the soccer players. In other words, is the definition that FIFA makes of the season accepted? If so (from the first official party to the last, without establishing dates), there would be scope to expand them all, but -see attached document- immediately afterwards the effective dates appear. And of course, many doubts arise.

If they have already signed with another club for the 20/21 season, can they be claimed on July 1 to play the rest of the 19/20? In my opinion, no, because the 19/20 season does not have a start date nor are registrations allowed, explains Nebod. Who will pay the salary from July 1 until he joins the new team, which perhaps has better conditions? Asks Juan de Dios Crespo. Doubts.

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