Clubs are required to comply with their financial obligations towards players.
Among the obligations arising from the conclusion of an employment contract between a club and a player, is the obligation to pay wages on the due date.
The FIFA Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players (RSTP) provides a framework for this obligation and sets out various consequences if a club fails to fulfill its obligations.
In that respect, Article 12Bis of the FIFA RSTP specifies that any club found to have delayed a due payment for more than 30 days without a prima facie contractual basis may be sanctioned with one of the following measures:
- a warning;
- a reprimand;
- a fine;
- a ban from registering any new players, either nationally or internationally, for one or two entire and consecutive registration periods.
It should be added that if the club is found to have failed to meet its obligations on several occasions, it should be liable to a heavier penalty.
The aforementioned sanctions are imposed by the FIFA Dispute Resolution Chamber (DRC), when a player lodges a claim before FIFA to obtain payment of his pending remuneration.
Based on the aforementioned article, any club found to have delayed a due payment for more than 30 days will be also ordered by the FIFA DRC Judge to pay to the player the relevant payment.
However, the club will only be considered to have breached its contractual obligation in the following cases:
- the player has given the club formal notice to pay the outstanding salaries within the time limits required by the RSTP,
- the club did not comply with its obligations within the specified deadline.
It follows from the above that non-payment of wages can be solved by means of a FIFA proceedings, even though the player's employment contract is still being executed.
Depending on the circumstances, non-payment of wages may also justify unilateral termination of the player's employment contract.
Article 14 bis of the FIFA RSTP establishes that “in the case of a club unlawfully failing to pay a player at least two monthly salaries on their due dates, 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 fully comply with its financial obligation(s)."
The aforementioned article also states that “alternative provisions in contracts existing at the time of this provision coming into force may be considered. Collective bargaining agreements validly negotiated by employers’ and employees’ representatives at domestic level in accordance with national law may deviate from the principles stipulated in the aforementioned paragraph.”
However, it is first necessary to send a reminder to the club to pay the outstanding wages.
As a reminder, FIFA is competent to hear employment-related disputes between a club and a player of an international dimension only.
The existence and content of any contractual jurisdiction clause should also be carefully examined.
It is strongly advised to contact a lawyer as soon as a delay in payment or breach of contract occurs. The lawyer will provide legal information and will be able to propose the most suitable solutions.
He will first try to solve the matter in an amicable matter, and, if necessary, will take the necessary steps to resolve the dispute before the competent decision-making bodies (FIFA, national dispute resolution chamber, labour courts, etc.)