South China’s foreign players ask Fifa to help in pay dispute
Some are on HK$100,000 a month while local footballers are turning to the HKFA for assistance
In a battle for millions owed under contract, at least two of South China’s foreign players have asked Fifa for help as the labour dispute with Hong Kong’s most famous club plays out.
South China, the oldest and most successful club in Hong Kong’s history, dropped a bombshell last month by giving up their Premier League status and will instead play in the amateur second-tier First Division next season.
The decision was duly accepted by the Hong Kong Football Association, but nine players, including three from overseas, are still under contract.
These contracts were arranged by outgoing convenor Wallace Cheung Kwong-yung, who quit at the end of the season after failing to come to terms with the club’s parent body, the South China Athletic Association (SCAA).
Some of the players have a monthly salary of HK$100,000 but South China are only willing to pay the players one month’s salary to settle the case, according to a well-placed source.
All three foreign players – Bojan Malisic, Luiz Carlos and Nikola Komazec – have returned home and were not available for comment, but the source confirmed they had already sought help from the world governing body to resolve their contract issues.
“The Football Association is monitoring the situation closely,” said the source. “Several players have already met with the association to try to sort out their contracts with the club.
“For those local players involved, they can request a national dispute resolution chamber be set up under the HKFA to review their cases and make a decision. The foreign players can go straight to Fifa for assistance and some of them have already done so.”
Captain Chan Wai-ho, one of the nine, said the players suffered the most and urged all parties involved to resolve the issue as soon as possible.
“We are professional players and earn our living through playing soccer. Our contract must be honoured no matter what happens in the change of team management,” he said.
HKFA board director Canny Leung Chi-san said earlier they would look into the matter after several South China players asked the association for help.
“The association would play a neutral role to help the club and the players so they can sort things out, but as far as we are concerned the players’ contract must be respected and whatever action taken must follow the labour law of Hong Kong,” she said.
Other players involved are believed to be Sean Tse Ka-keung, Chan Siu-kwan, Law Hiu-chung and Cheung Kin-fung.
Convenor Cheung, who spent over HK$50 million over the past three seasons but without winning any major silverware, said he was willing to continue with the team but there was no response from SCAA after he made the request in March.