FIFPro President PhillipePiat said today the transfer system is illegal, citing the abuse of players’ rights coupled with a skewed, inflated and unsustainable labour market which poses an irrefutable threat to the football industry.

The World Footballers’ Union is pressing forward with its announced legal challenge to the transfer system. Experts from various fields have been engaged by FIFPro and a team of economists is conducting extensive research designed to expose the failings of the transfer system on the basis of freedom of movement, competition law and human rights.

Piat declared, “We are waiting for the European Court of Justice to recognise or otherwise the validity of our complaint. We know we are in the right!”

“At one point, FIFA went into reverse, in spite of its promises, even though some of them were made in writing. We have exhausted our capacity for dialogue.”

“It was in 1998, faced with the well founded grievances of the European Commission, that FIFA was constrained and forced to amend its transfer system. A certain number of points had to be and were amended (in 2001). But as a general rule, FIFA has shown itself to be much too vague in the content of most of the articles it has amended.”

FIFPro’s renewed stance comes in the wake of the latest FIFA Transfer Matching System (TMS) report which revealed global transfer fees in 2013 amounted to $3.72 billion USD, a significant increase of 41% on the previous year. Bearing in mind, this does not take into account domestic transfers between two clubs in the same national association.

“Today, transfer fees are exorbitant and obscene. It’s the system that permits this, just as it allows clubs to run with enormous deficits. It even authorizes third party ownership to trade shares in a player, as is done in the world of horses. These trends must worry all those who are thinking about and preparing for the football of tomorrow, as they worry FIFPro,” said Piat. “The transfer system is responsible for the inflationary bubble, denounced by all the parties, by everyone working to preserve the future of football.”

FIFPro General Secretary, Theo van Seggelen, said football’s financial trend speaks for itself, “While the overall financial pie has reached an unprecedented level, non-payment of wages is rife across the game and we know a crisis is looming for the football industry.”

“We see this trend developing on numerous levels through our vast experience of nearly fifty years in the game and the complaints received from of our 55 member unions worldwide who show us daily that the majority of professional players are denied their basic rights.”

“Part of the problem is these are ‘invisible’ players, those who do not command the attention of the wider public, whereas in actual fact they are the front line of this battle. Their struggles are representative and symptomatic of the transfer system’s core deficiencies,” concluded Van Seggelen.

Respect of contract is a fundamental right for all professional footballers as they are workers/employees like any other in the eyes of the law. The issue was recently highlighted by the players of Spanish club Racing de Santander who refused to compete for the ball after the opening whistle had sounded in their Copa del Rey Quarter-Final against Real Sociedad. The players had not been paid for more than four months.

Piat adds, “Non-payment of players opens the door to corruption.”

“A player who hasn’t been paid, as commonly occurs in many countries in the former Eastern bloc, or in Africa or Asia, is much more easily manipulated. Those who organise match-fixing know this very well, and the examples of those players who are left adrift, and who end up being forced to fix matches, are unfortunately commonplace.”

“But the footballer is not the only guilty party, if ever he was in any case: the club which doesn’t pay him his wages is just as much to blame. But the player is often the only one taken to court, hounded and condemned.