FIFPro wades into Chinese Super League salaries row calling for more protection for players’ rights in China

World players’ union pushes for the creation of a footballers’ association in China amid concerns about overdue payments.

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 27 July, 2017, 10:44am
UPDATED : Thursday, 27 July, 2017, 10:44am

The world players’ union is pushing for the creation of a footballers’ association in China amid concerns about overdue payments in the burgeoning league.

“Media reports this week revealed several Chinese Super League clubs are falling behind on payments, and FIFPro wishes to ensure that affected players have somewhere to turn to for help,” FIFPro said in a statement.

The Asian Football Confederation has warned clubs across the continent to settle debts to players by August 31 or risk competition bans. The Chinese Football Association reportedly followed up with letters to all but three of the country’s 16 top-flight clubs to raise concerns about outstanding debts on transfers, salaries or bonuses.

The bulk of the clubs denied being in arrears to players and said they were sending paperwork to the CFA.

FIFPro said overdue payables to players was a global issue, with a survey of 14,000 players in 2016 showing that 41 per cent had experienced unpaid wages or bonuses in the previous two seasons.

A separate study in Asia in 2015 involving 1,000 players in nine countries showed that a quarter of players had experienced times when their pay was overdue.

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“Players in China do not have the benefit of a local players’ association to protect their interests,” FIFPro said, noting that China had shown a strong commitment to developing the game. “In time, the establishment of an association which protects the players and ensures their voices are represented in administering the sport would be beneficial to further enhance China’s plan to become a global football powerhouse.”

After decades of dismal national team results, president Xi Jinping pinpointed improving Chinese soccer as a top priority.

Chinese Super League clubs subsequently shook up international soccer by offering large transfer fees and wages for players from European teams.

Over the past year, transfers such as Shanghai SIPG’s 60 million deal for Brazilian midfielder Hulk have brought a wave of attention to the league, but critics say the purchases lead to little long-term benefit for Chinese soccer.

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The CFA has recently taken measures to slow down the influx of foreign stars and to promote the development of homegrown talent by introducing a special tax during the last transfer window.

The sport’s national governing body ruled that any club paying more than 45 million yuan (HK$52.1 million) for a player transfer must pay the same amount to a domestic youth development fund.

The CFA has also proposed a rule that would require clubs to play an under-23 Chinese player for every foreign player on the field.