Fifa has laid the groundwork for clubs to deal with complaints and appeals over wage cuts for players, producing guidelines looking to cut costs during the stoppage caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The issue of pay cuts has become a hot topic in recent days, with players in England's Premier League rejecting proposals to slash their wages by 30 per cent, following similar deals struck between clubs in Germany, Italy and Spain.
With the majority of football leagues suspended indefinitely as countries scramble to contain the spread of the Covid-19 virus, Fifa has readied itself to deal with what is likely to be a series of different agreements and possible complaints. Its guidelines urge any cuts to be “proportionate”, according to an internal document seen by Reuters.
Fifa’s Coronavirus working group met last week and agreed on a wide range of issues, summarised in the document, including that player contracts due to run out at the end of June should be extended to the end of any resumed season.
The internal paper notes that such decisions will inevitably reflect national law and specific agreements in each country but says it is keen to avoid large discrepancies between similar leagues and clubs. It also urges clubs, leagues and players to reach “appropriate collective agreements”.
According to the document, world football's governing body said guiding principles behind any agreements should “guarantee some form of salary payment to players and coaches, avoid litigation, protect contractual stability, and ensure clubs do not go bankrupt, while considering the financial impact of Covid-19 on clubs”.
In any event that clubs and employees are unable to reach an agreement and where “national law does not address the situation or collective agreements are not applicable”, unilateral decisions to change contracts “will only be recognised when they are otherwise deemed reasonable” by Fifa’s Dispute Resolutions Chamber or Players Status Committee.
A “reasonable” contractual change will take into account the economic situation of a club, the proportionality of any salary amendment and the net income of the employee after that amendment, it adds.
Fifa will also take into account whether the decision applies to the entire squad or only specific employees, and whether the club attempted in good faith to reach a mutual agreement with its employees.
The coronavirus working group is composed of representatives from across the game including Fifa, confederations, national federations, the European Club Association (ECA), players union FIFPRO and the World Leagues Forum.
The group’s views will be submitted to the Bureau of the Fifa Council for approval.
Several high-profile European clubs have reached agreements with their squads on the issue of salary deferrals or cuts.
Lionel Messi and the rest of the Barcelona squad agreed a 70 per cent reduction in wages to help pay the club's non-playing staff while Atletico Madrid, Italian champions Juventus and German title-holders Bayern Munich struck similar deals.
The Premier League's suggested 30 per cent wage cut or deferral strategy was discussed in a conference call with the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) and the League Managers' Association (LMA) on Saturday.
The proposal was rejected by the players, escalating a bitter public row as their union claimed the government would lose out on more than £200 million (Dh901m) in tax.