Can a professional footballer decide to play for free?

High profile salaries currently paid to footballers

Recently there has been much written concerning the vast salaries paid to professional footballers and the various bonuses which they receive from their clubs and also money from commercial deals.

Some of the professional footballers currently plying their trade in the Football Association Premier League are paid three times more than the British Prime Minister – this is a startling statistic when you put it into context.

Salary Cap

Many feel that the amount paid to footballers should be capped in the style of certain American and Australian sports to enable the competiveness of the league but also to keep much of the money generated by the sport within the sport rather than in the pockets of the players.

Situation where a football has decided to pay for free

Considering the current status of the game it is somewhat surprising that a footballer has agreed to play for an entire season for his club without receiving any form of payment.

Why has this situation come about?

The player of whom this situation concerns moved to his club in Italy at the beginning of the 2009/10 football season just experienced, however, within a couple of games for his new club he suffered an injury which was to rule him out for the entirety of the season.

The individual player initially signed a contract which ran from 2009 until June 2012, however, he has now signed a contract extension for another year ensuring his contract will run until 2013. This contract extension was done at the request of the player with the player deciding to insert the condition that he will receive no remuneration for this final year.

Is it legal to do this?

When footballers sign contracts with clubs for their playing services they will be required to sign a standard contract with applies to that league, for example players playing in England in the FA Premier League will be required to sign a standard FA Premier League contract.

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For more information on:

  • Is it unfair of the club to accept this proposal from the player?
  • Would this ever happen in any other employment context?
  • Will this case set a precedent in the footballing world?
  • Could a club refuse to pay a player who is injured or suspended for a long period of time?