FIFPro: Athletic blackmailing Llorente

Players' union FIFPro have called for an end to 'blackmail behaviour' such as that towards Athletic Bilbao forward Fernando Llorente.

The San Mames side have refused to play the forward following his decision not to renew his contract once it ends at the end of the season.

“FIFPro wants to talk to FIFA, UEFA and the European Commission about measures to adjust the behaviour of a growing number of clubs,” read a statement from the worldwide trade union for professional footballers.

“FIFPro signals a growing number of players who are put under pressure to prolong their contract. ‘For clubs, football seems to have become more like business. Football comes in second place.’

“This is no new phenomenon. A club forces a player with a contract nearing expiry to sign a new contract. If the player refuses, the club puts him on the reserve bench or in the grandstand. This professional footballer doesn’t get a chance to play anymore. Only when he has signed a new contract he can resume playing.

“The two most striking examples at the moment are Wesley Sneijder(Internazionale, Italy) and Fernando Llorente (Athletic Bilbao, Spain).

“Sneijder’s contract runs until the middle of 2015. Inter has demanded that the Dutch international extend his contract until 2016, but then for exactly the same total salary. In other words, to work a year longer without receiving any salary for it. Sneijder refused and since then, Coach AndreaStramaccioni has kept the playmaker outside the match selection.

“Llorente has a contract until the middle of 2013. Last summer, the Spanish international refused to sign a new contract. Since then, Coach MarceloBielsa has kept the striker on the bench. He has only come into action as substitute.

“Only last summer, Llorente was in the selection of the European champions Spain, while he was also one of the main players for Athletic, which reached the final of the Europa League in May.

“Sneijder and Llorente are not the only players, says FIFPro secretary general Theo van Seggelen: ‘This type of practice used to be an exception. Unfortunately, we now see clubs in all countries in Europe using this type of measure. For us, the time has come to sound the bell’, said Van Seggelen to the Dutch Volkskrant newspaper and NOS Radio.

“‘Clubs say that players must respect contracts, but why should that not apply in reverse? It is not as if Sneijder has taken a gun to the head of the board of Inter to force them to submit that contract. The club offered it to him with their full understanding.’”

Tags Bielsa Llorente