The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) has awarded former Adelaide United Goalkeeper, Daniel Beltrame major compensation after a long-drawn-out dispute over the interpretation of Football Federation Australia’s (FFA) sport’s injury coverage.
Daniel, a three time national champion with Wollongong Wolves (1999/2000 and 2000/2001 seasons) and Adelaide United (2005/2006 season), sustained a knee injury during training in April 2008 and never returned to the playing field. Daniel’s playing contract with Adelaide expired on 31 March 2009 after which he took up a goal-keeper coaching position with North Queensland Fury.

Under the collective bargaining agreement, if an A-League player is injured, he entitled to be paid for up to 104 weeks from the date of the injury while he recovers and rehabilitates, regardless of whether their contract expires during that period. The insurance policy required under the CBA is intended to reimburse the club for payments made to the injured player while he continues to be paid under his contract, and to pay the injured player directly after his contract expires.

Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) Player Relations Manager, Laura Sigal brought the claim to the FOS and represented Daniel throughout the dispute.

The claim came after a long battle over whether Daniel’s injury was “pre-existing”. His club stopped receiving coverage at the point the entity making the payments arbitrarily deemed Daniel would have recovered but for a pre-existing injury. After the matter was submitted to the FOS, Daniel was offered the amount due minus what he earned coaching at the Fury and what he would have earned coaching at the Fury if he had not elected to return home. The PFA made clear that only sums earned as a footballer were deductible from the payments due.

The FOS agreed and awarded Daniel the full amount claimed by PFA on his behalf as well as interest at the rate of 7.75%.   As a result of PFA’s efforts, Adelaide United recovered payments that were wrongly denied to the club, but which it did not have the independent ability to recover through the FOS.

This is not the first problem the PFA has had enforcing the income protection in the collective bargaining agreement. Hayden Foxe, Ross Aloisi and James Robinson are just three of a number of players for whom PFA obtained wrongly denied income protection.

Any A-League player who sustains a long-term injury should contact Laura Sigal or Player Relations Executive, James Johnson, as soon as possible for initial advice and representation.  We will work with your club to ensure that you receive your full entitlement.