This is the business of free players, does it suit the clubs?

Hoy free soccer players are the protagonists of the transfer market in Colombia and in the world, a trend that emerged from the post-pandemic economic crisis. In 2021, according to Fifa, 66% of transfers involved players without a contract, and what happens in 2022 seems to increase that percentage.

The players began to resort more and more to article 18, paragraph 3 of the FIFA regulations: “You will be free to sign with another club if your contract with the current club has expired or will expire in six months.” This was the case, for example, in the arrival of Lionel Messi from Barcelona to PSG.

In this context, this figure does not favor the clubs that invest millions of money in the training of a player so that later he goes free and has no economic return for his rights. However, the teams themselves, due to economic needs, have also caused the situation, because they prefer to hire a free player than pay another club for the transfer.

Victor Marulanda, former president of Atlético Nacional, explained that there are regulations at the international level which says that player contracts must be for a fixed term. “If we analyze the labor code in Colombia, it is established that the longest duration of a fixed contract is 3 years. That is a weakness for the clubs because they only have that time of bond with the player and that means that for a protected period they can have 2 or 2 and a half years.

Marulanda indicated that this is also a weakness for the Colombian market, “Worldwide there are many countries that allow a 5-year contract, but here it is 3.”

He added that when a team buys a player it has 3 phases: “A period of adaptation, another of stability and the last one of consolidation, and in Colombia, due to the times, it is almost time to go from adaptive to consolidation. While these processes are being generated, the contract almost has to be renewed. It is at that moment that the businessmen come in to do a job of negotiation and then the footballer decides not to sign an extension and the team is exposed”.

He added that players today prefer to sign contracts for one year or maximum 2leave the club and re-generate what is called the loan in the transaction, which is an amount that remains for the representative or the player, plus the contract, and thus they have better dividends.

“Right now the most important thing is employment contracts, which is the only thing that protects sports law before Fifa.”

It should be noted that only if the player signs for three years, the club is the owner of the federative rights, but when two years, one year or six months remain, if they do not renew by mutual agreement, the player is free when the contract ends. Hence, footballers resort to that tool. When there are six months left, they can renew or start negotiating with another club.

The president of the DIM, Daniel Ossa, says that the problem arises is with the homegrown players. “One takes them from childhood, gives them a home, study, gives them their first contract, makes them debut and there is no time to enjoy it. So one contracts them young and later, on the recommendation of the representatives, they go free when a great effort has been made. It seems to me that the contracts should be up to 5 years, that one has the option of doing it between 1 and 5 years”.

defend that right

There are other situations that allow soccer players to become free agents, such as clubs they cannot pay them what was agreed. And they directly agree to pay the debt in installments in exchange for the pass.

However, athletes defend that right, as stated by the executive director of Acolfutpro, Carlos González Puche

“The player needs freedom to work, they cannot restrict that right or have agreements not to hire players who end with just cause or do not renew. This is how FIFA regulates it. cannot be tied against his will to a worker to fulfill a contract that you do not want to keep or deny you the expectation of receiving a better salary or a better opportunity.”

Puche indicates that the clubs should not complain about the training of the players, because all the companies invest in it. “They do training, training and if someone is going to go to another company why can’t he do it if they offer him a better job opportunity, because soccer players can too. A player without a contract is free and can contract with whoever he thinks best”.



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