Renedy Singh (TOI Photo)
NEW DELHI: Indian club footballers are having sleepless nights with clubs either throwing in the force majeure clause, or stalling their salaries. The focus in this scenario then falls on the role of the Footballer’s Players Association of India to help players negotiate this issue. FPAI president, Renedy Singh called for patience amid this uncertain time, but he also reminded clubs of their responsibility. Excerpts:
These are complicated times. Clubs are having problems honouring contracts, but we also see players avoiding coming on record over stalled payments. As FPAI president, how does the association help resolve this issue?
These are difficult times and as players, you have to be a little patient, because everywhere in the world all the players are facing the same problem. We have to understand that this pandemic is an unprecedented situation, the clubs too are facing the same problem. We can see that they are losing money. My advice would be that once you have signed the contract, you don’t need to worry so much. If they do not pay after three, four months, we can always go through the Football Players Association of India and approach FIFA and the AIFF.
I would like to give the example of Katsumi Yusa, who was not paid his salary by East Bengal for nearly a year. He approached us and FIFPro, and soon received his full payment. We are aware of the players who haven’t been paid for a while now. I can understand those players who are not on big salaries are the most impacted in this situation, but we will have to wait. It’s all about waiting. Patience is the need of the hour.
Minerva Punjab FC, Hyderabad FC, Quess East Bengal, Chennai City FC, all are or were withholding payments. The problem is everywhere, not just the I-League, but even the ISL. What would do the players and FPAI have to say to them?
We have been talking to the players and few clubs on this issue. Till now no club has said that they will not pay the players. All they are asking is to give them some time and I feel we should give them that. That’s the good way to negotiate for both the parties keeping in mind that we are facing difficult times.
Some EB players sent Quess a legal notice over non-payments….
Yes, we have seen the notice that they sent Quess. For the last few months, we have been patient and waiting. In the coming months, if the clubs don’t pay there will be strict action from the AIFF and FIFA. In the past some clubs have had to pay heavy fines for withholding payments.
What responsibility do investors/corporates have in such cases when they attach their names with a famous club but pull out when things go bad?
They have a big responsibility and they have to understand that those players run their entire families with their incomes. They wait for the end of each month, so that they can pay off their monthly bills and if the payment from the clubsn don’t come in time, it affects their performance too. I’ve seen so many such instances during my playing days. It’s all related. Respect the contract and if they fail, they have to pay the price. The AIFF and Fifa are there to look after that. And we as FPAI, will always be there on players’ side to support them.
As a former player, and expecting timely payments through your career yourself, what advice would you give a player when he is faced with little or no money, and payments are late.
As a player, who played for 19 years, I am aware about delays in payments. In my time, delays for the sixth or seventh month of a season was very normal. But not anymore for the last ten years. The payments have been smooth for almost all the clubs in the last few years. This pandemic issue is different and that’s why we request all the players to be a little patient even though they are facing the toughest time. We also know that the clubs are facing the same. In another few months if they don’t respect the contract then there is AIFF and FIFA to take strict action.
It is also possible that agents also take inexperienced players for a ride. How does the FPAI look into this problem?
It is important to educate the players so that no official can take them for a ride. Lots of players make the mistake of not even reading when they sign the contract. They don’t even know what’s there in the contract. We at FPAI are trying our best to educate the players as much as possible. That’s our job to guide the players and show them the right way. Especially the young players.
What greater role of the FPAI do you see in this? Should it have more powers, should it be a bit more proactive?
The FPAI has been trying to reach out to the players who are in trouble or facing problems. Talking to them and talking to the clubs. The most important thing is to be united. As a players’ association, the more united you are the more powerful we will be.