Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) today reiterated the obligations of Football Federation Australia (FFA) to insure all A-League players to cover their remuneration and entitlements.

The income insurance of all A-League players has been brought to light since the PFA became aware that Socceroo Jason Culina was not insured when injured at the 2011 AFC Asian Cup whilst playing for the Socceroos and a contracted player of Gold Coast United:

1.      Schedule 3.2 of the A-League Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) provides:
“FFA must establish and maintain such insurance as is necessary to cover the remuneration and entitlements of a League Player payable under his Standard Player Contract (including Annual Salary, Match Payments and superannuation) for the period of any injury, illness or ailment sustained arising out of or in the course of his employment with a League Club.  Such cover must continue for a period of not less than 104 weeks from the date of the injury, illness or ailment and notwithstanding the expiry or termination of the Player’s Standard Player Contract for any reason.”

2.      Schedule 3.2 of the CBA applies to all “League Players”, which are “professional footballers who, at the relevant time, are employed, registered or eligible to play for League Clubs in the League.”  The CBA does not differentiate between Marquee Players and other A-League players on this point;

3.      the CBA was signed by FFA and the PFA in May 2008.  It runs until 30 April 2013.  It is incorporated into the Standard Player Contract signed by each A-League Player.  The Standard Player Contract obliges the player, his Club and FFA to comply with the CBA;

4.      the PFA has been advised that, when Jason Culina was contracted by Gold Coast United, the insurance cover mandated by the CBA was not established for him by FFA in accordance with Schedule 3.2 to the CBA;

5.      accordingly, when Jason was injured at the 2011 AFC Asian Cup, the 104 weeks insurance for his remuneration and entitlements was not available.  That cover cannot now be provided as he is injured;

6.      had the insurance cover been in place, it would have protected Jason as well as his two employers during the 104 week period – Gold Coast United and Newcastle Jets; and

7.      Jason is on the road to recovery and has received medical advice from a leading surgeon that he will be fit to play for the 2012/13 season.  He is working extremely hard at his rehabilitation.  Yet, he remains uninsured.

PFA Chief Executive Brendan Schwab said the PFA had written to FFA on 1 December 2011 to seek urgent confirmation of which A-League players are insured under Schedule 3.2 to the CBA.  FFA has yet to provide that information despite the promise to do so.

Schwab said, “The PFA is obviously concerned if FFA – as the governing body of the A-League – is failing to implement its fundamental obligation to insure all A-League players under the CBA.  Schedule 3.2 provides vital protection for the A-League, players and clubs, and is the most important provision in the CBA from the PFA’s and the players’ perspectives.”

The practical operation of Schedule 3.2 means:
•       clubs and players can enter into contracts in confidence knowing the risk of injury is mitigated;
•       clubs are compensated when paying players under contract, assisting them to recruit Replacement Players where permitted; and
•       injured A-League players continue to be paid when their contract expires or is otherwise terminated.

On Christmas Day, FFA issued a statement that purported to set out the “facts” regarding the insurance of Marquee Players and questioned the PFA’s motives, describing the grievance filed by the PFA on behalf of Jason as “a red herring, a quite mischievous distraction from what’s happening. You have to question the PFA’s motives…”  The FFA statement did not refer to Schedule 3.2 of the CBA or state which A-League players are presently insured.

Schwab added: “If FFA has tried to pass its liability onto the clubs, then it has done so without the knowledge or agreement of the PFA.  Any liability that may arise will be a matter for FFA and the club concerned, but that certainly does not excuse FFA from meeting its direct responsibilities to the player under the CBA.”