March 31, 2020 / 5:03 PM / 2 months ago

Players' union says completion of current season must be priority

(Reuters) - The global players’ union FIFPRO has said the completion of the current season must be the priority when football is finally able to resume following the coronavirus outbreak.

The sport is at a standstill around the world, with domestic leagues halted and the Euro 2020 and Copa America tournaments pushed back until next year, and it is not clear when the game will be able to resume.

FIFPRO General Secretary Jonas Baer-Hoffmann said failing to complete the current season was not an option at the moment.

“Everyone in football will lose out if that happens,” he told reporters in a conference call. “I don’t think it’s responsible to make that consideration at the moment.

“If we have any chance of finishing the season, we have to do so because the impact for players and everyone else in the game will be great if we don’t.”

There have been some suggestions that the current season could extend to August or September, with the subsequent campaign beginning later. However, some clubs have indicated that the current season should be scrapped.

Baer-Hoffmann said FIFPRO had seen both good and bad responses to the crisis.

“There is a club in Serbia which voluntarily pre-paid all salaries until June and they have reached a collective agreement in Costa Rica over the payment of wages,” he said.

But Baer-Hoffmann added that there had also been cases of clubs using the crisis as an excuse to terminate contracts early, sack players or declare bankruptcy simply as an instrument for not paying bills and wages.

He praised players at Juventus and Barcelona who had agreed to take pay cuts, saying it was a “strong signal that should be commended”, but added that the example should not be used to pressure those at smaller clubs.

“We had clubs from Indonesia using that to justify wage cuts,” he said. “It is very important to take into account the vastly different economic circumstances, even the lowest clubs in Serie A are very different to Juventus.”

“We can only appeal to common sense that those measures taken by the elite clubs and players cannot just be transferred downwards.

“We have people literally on between 300 and 1,000 euros ($330 and $1,100) a month, for them to consider a pay cut is a different story.”

While football has stopped almost everywhere, it is still being played in Belarus, which Baer-Hoffmann said was “difficult to comprehend.

“We’ve been contacted by players who are concerned — common sense tells you they have to apply the same cautionary measures as everywhere else,” he said.

($1 = 0.9113 euros)

Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Ken Ferris

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