BY PETER KANJERE:
Debate has started in earnest on how domestic football should apply the amended Fifa statute which grants players freedom to terminate their contracts unilaterally if their clubs fail to pay them for two consecutive months.
Recently, world football governing body, Fifa, amended Article 14bis of its regulations on status and players’ transfers in order to protect them from abusive clubs the world over.
The amended article reads: “In the case of a club unlawfully failing to pay at least two months salaries on their due date, the player will be deemed to have a just cause to terminate his contract, provided that he has put the debtor club in default in writing and has granted a deadline of at least 15 days for the debtor club to comply with its financial obligations.”
Football Association of Malawi Transfer Matching System Manager, Casper Jangale, on Tuesday confirmed that the statute applies to domestic football.
“The article comes in to solve the problems which the players were facing. The article is very much applicable to Malawi,” Jangale said.
Be Forward Wanderers defender, Francis Mulimbika, on Tuesday, commenting in general in his personal capacity, said he welcomes the amended statute.
“I hope that this will protect players when it comes to contracts. It hurts to hear that a footballer has gone for months on end without being paid,” Mulimbika said.
Some TNM Super League teams have also welcomed the revised statute but called for caution on its adoption.
Nyasa Big Bullets Chief Executive Officer, Fleetwood Haiya, and Masters Security FC General Secretary (GS), Zachariah Nyirenda, welcomed the amended statute.
Haiya said: “Player welfare should be at the heart of clubs and the amendment has come in time.”
However, Zachariah Nyirenda called for caution in the way Malawi football adopts the amended statute.
“I would be quick to point out about the need to customise such regulations considering the level of professionalism our game is at. For instance, what is our prize money compared to our neighbouring countries for instance? What is the value of our football? Is football yet a business in Malawi? Do we have sponsors in Malawi or all we have are our donors,” he said.
Wanderers GS, Mike Butao, on Tuesday said the revised statute applies only to basic salary.
“But in Malawi, we are mi s interpreting this and, wrongly applying it to bonuses, signing-on fees, etc which is sad. In a normal situation, a signing-on fee is prorated over the duration of the contract. Wrongly, we end up absconding training and try to terminate contracts.
“The problem I have with this rule though is that it only makes sense where free agents are concerned. But it totally ignores the issue of transfer fees in a situation where one club is buying a player from another club and has already paid the transfer fees. What happens to the transfer fees?” Butao said.
Silver Strikers GS, Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda, said “the new regulations allow clubs to negotiate contracts based on the income the clubs earn as opposed to negotiating contracts based on assumptions or to merely hoodwink players into signing contracts when the club knows for sure that it would not manage the promised salary.”
He added: “This takes care of the local setting like Malawi. …meaning that a club can agree with a player that a contract cannot be terminated based on overdue salaries for two consecutive months or more.” said.
Most clubs struggle for sponsorship and individuals sponsor clubs in return for nothing due to lack of a professional football set up.