Football's reality: low wages and late payments

ZURICH • Far from the image of owning fast cars and living in mansions, footballers around the world face low wages, delayed payments, bullying and intimidation, according to a survey published yesterday.

Sixty per cent of the nearly 14,000 players interviewed in 54 countries earned less than US$2,000 (S$ 2,854) a month and four in 10 had experienced late payment at some stage in the last two years, the survey conducted by the world players' union FifPro said.

"Our frustration is that nobody is willing to believe that clubs do not respect contracts and don't pay the players," said FifPro general secretary Theo van Seggelen.

He said the clubs should "feel ashamed that this is today's reality".

"Not every footballer has three cars in different colours. The reality of our football industry is completely different from what most of the fans think," he added.

FifPro said that the survey, produced in conjunction with the University of Manchester, covered countries in Europe, North and South America and Africa.

Unions from several key countries, including England and Spain which boast two of the world's richest leagues, did not return completed surveys. But this was offset by the number of developing countries which were also excluded.

On wages, the survey said that only 40.3 per cent earned more than US$2,000 per month. Of the rest, 14.5 per cent earned between US$1,000 and US$2,000, 24.6 per cent earned between US$300 and US$1,000 and 20.6 per cent earned US$300 or less.

Forty-one per cent said they had experienced delays in being paid, a figure which rose to 96 per cent in Gabon, 95 per cent in Bolivia and 94 per cent in Tunisia.

Van Seggelen said that, although players could go to Fifa's dispute resolution chamber after a three-month delay, they had to wait up to two years for a decision.

"We want Fifa and clubs reduce the non-payment rule to one month; the end goal is to ensure players are always paid on time and in full, the fundamental right of every worker," he said.

A lack of job security was also a problem, with the average contract length of 22 months while eight per cent of players said they did not have a contract at all.

"The vast majority earn modest wages, have short careers, very little security and face an uncertain future when their career comes to an end," said van Seggelen.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 30, 2016, with the headline 'Football's reality: low wages and late payments'. Print Edition | Subscribe