Pro footballer wins damages against Singapore club

The Professional Footballers Association of Australia has won a FIFA Dispute Resolution Chamber verdict for former Socceroo player Milan Blagojevic who was awarded damages against his former club in Singapore. Blagojevic, currently seen on Australian television as an assistant coach on the SBS Network realty show Nerds FC, was terminated by Geylang United in 2004 after he sustained a knee injury only months into a two-year contract.

FIFA accepted the PFA’s argument that the club could not lawfully terminate a player based on an injury that the player sustained during the course of his employment. In finding for the player, FIFA awarded Milan lost wages and entitlements payable to him under the balance of the contract.

“Milan made financial commitments for the coming years based on having a two-year contract and he was entitled to the club honouring its obligations,” said PFA Chief Executive John Didulica. “To be put in a position where you have a couple of days to leave your apartment and the country is unacceptable. Milan never played at the highest level again because of the injury he sustained performing for his club.”

As we move into Asia, there is an increased responsibility on the game to monitor Australian players abroad. We have less than 300 active professional players and have to field teams at a World Cup and at the Olympic Games, compared with Brazil who have a lazy 15,000 professionals to choose from. Aside from the moral responsibility that exists, there is a vested interest for the PFA and the rest of the football community to ensure that as many of these players are active and as fit as possible,” he said.

The Australian Professional Footballers' Association is an Australian trade union affiliated with the Australian Council of Trade Unions that represents professional male, female and elite junior football players. It was formed in April 1993 as the Australian Soccer Players’ Association.

In November 2005, the PFA signed an historic Collective Bargaining Agreement with Football Federation Australia to cover Australia’s vital FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign. The Agreement rewards players for their achievements at the highest level of the game and ensures all players actively contribute to FFA’s efforts to establish football in Australia as a fully professional and commercially viable sport.

The Agreement commits the FFA, the PFA and the players committing to work together towards the advancement of Football’s Strategic Priorities, including the competitiveness of the Socceroos, the standard of the game, the development pathway for elite players and a sustainable collective bargaining regime based on the notion of partnership.

It further supports that commitment by ensuring Player Payments are based upon FFA and the players sharing Player Generated Revenue or PGR, a formula that returns to the Players 30% of FFA’s commercial revenues from the National Team including broadcast rights, stadium income, sponsorship and licensing once FFA has first met the costs of conducting a world class FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign;

Other key features include ensuring that 30% of FIFA Prize Money payable to FFA for qualifying for and participating in the FIFA Confederations Cup and the FIFA World Cup is paid to the Players; providing FFA and players with certainty regarding the handling of “club v. country” issues in accordance with the FIFA regulations and best practice; and developing player welfare programs designed to ensure players take a holistic approach to their careers and are prepared for life after football;

The Agreement was effective from 1 July 2004 and will expire 60 days after the 2006 FIFA World Cup Finals.

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