‘Black Book’ of Eastern European game unveiled

‘Black Book’ of Eastern European game unveiled

BRUSSELS - Reuters
‘Black Book’ of Eastern European game unveiled

Serbian football player Dragisa Pejovic (L) of the team Bane Raska looks on as Theo Van Seggelen, Secretary General of FIFPro, the World Players Union, addresses the media as the ‘Black Book for Eastern Europe’ is revealed in a meeting in Brussels. AP photo

Professional football in eastern Europe is struggling with a “terrifying lack of respect” for the rights of players who are being exposed to increasing violence, racism and match-fixing, according to a report issued on Feb. 7.

FIFPro, the global union for professional players, revealed their findings in what they have called The Black Book Eastern Europe, after a survey of nearly 3,400 players in mainly eastern Europe with others from southern Europe adding their voices to a survey that makes astonishingly sombre reading.

FIFPro, who published the report in Brussels, says there is “an urgent need” to improve the legal position of players in eastern Europe.

The report concludes that almost a quarter of players (23.6 per cent) are aware of match-fixing in their league and that in Russia, hosts of the 2018 World Cup finals, the figure is as high as 43.5 percent.

Turkey is currently engulfed in a serious match-fixing scandal while many other cases have come to light in other countries.

Worrying results
Director Anthony Higgins said the results were worrying.

“They are a massive wake-up call for football, including in Western Europe,” he said. “Players regularly discover they are not paid by their clubs and then find themselves being targeted by corrupt influences. They are vulnerable.”

The report indicates a link between non-payment of player salaries and match-fixing. Of the 41 per cent of players, whose salaries have not been paid on time, were approached to consider cheating.
One in nine of the players polled have been the victim of a violent act with some attacked by coaches and other by fans. Over nine per cent of players reported examples of racism or other forms of discrimination.

FIFPro said the findings of the report indicated a “terrifying lack of respect for players”.

“The professional footballer, in eastern Europe, must fight for his rights, because a large number of the employers are not so particular about their obligations, FIFPro said.

“On average, it means that in each team that comes onto the field, there is at least one player who has been a victim of the aforementioned forms of mental or physical violence. That is more than shocking.

“The current situation in Eastern Europe is unacceptable. That should also be the case for every stakeholder in football. If they are still not convinced, then FIFPro’s Black Book Eastern Europe should set off the alarm bells.”