Johannesburg - The unfair treatment and rate at which players are released by the Premier Soccer League (PSL) clubs have left a bad taste in the mouth of the South African Football Players Union boss Thulaganyo Gaoshubelwe.
It’s the off season in the PSL, meaning there’ll be movement from almost all the 32 clubs. Be that as it may, no one would have predicted there’d be more than 60 players without employment already.
It is an alarming situation that hasn’t only raised the volume on the impact that Covid-19 has had on the economy but, also, the unprofessional state that the players are subjected to from the club bosses.
The players who’ll find themselves searching for employment come the opening of the transfer window on July 1 were either released as their contracts will come to an end on June 30 or their contracts were terminated.
There are few to no guarantees that they’ll find clubs any time soon, given the fact that clubs are still recovering from the impact that Covid-19 has had on the already battling economy.
“It’s unfortunate that this thing (the release of players) is happening at the backdrop of economic conditions where the players are not spared,” the Safpu president Gaoshubelwe told IOL Sport.
While the clubs have ample right to hire and fire, players have limited rights. And when they choose to exercise those rights as per contract agreement, they are subjected to mistreatment from the top.
It is in writing that when players reach the last six months of their contracts, they can sign pre-contacts with clubs of their choice.
But former AmaZulu midfielder Siyethemba Sithebe was not afforded that luxury. Instead, he was deemed as a traitor when he aired his intention of moving on come the end of last season.
“They wanted to offer him a new contract, but the player said ‘I’ve got a pre-contract’, as reported, with Kaizer Chiefs. He was then subjected to being dropped from the team,” Gaoshubelwe said.
“That doesn’t make sense to me because you are dealing with professionals. The clubs cannot have their cake and eat it. They can’t just drop a player who’s decided to sign a pre-contract elsewhere.
“They are making it seem as if there’s something criminal about the action whereas the regulations of the transfer of players speaks about that and allows action to happen every six months.”
The form of players and their relationships with the club bosses and coaching personnel, are ever-changing. But communication should be consistent among the parties, argues Gaoshubelwe.
“The players are professionals, they’ll behave accordingly. There is nothing that says when a player signs a pre-contract somewhere then they’ll start selling games and all that,” Gaoshubelwe said.
“I always advise players that when they reach the last six months of their contracts, they must ask about their future. Also, the clubs must be open to the players’ future going forward.”
Usuthu have received damning criticism. In an interview with Soccer Laduma, Augustine Mulenga, who was also released, revealed that the club didn’t support him when he was injured in January.
Usuthu president Sandile Zungu gave a damning response to those accusations, saying Mulenga earned R4 million gross yearly so he should have paid for his own recovery process.
“When you talk about the issues of rehab, the top tier and second tier division players are insured. The unfortunate part is that the players can’t claim on their behalf,” Gaoshubelwe explained.
“When a player is injured, the club must do the right thing and claim on behalf of the player because they are insured by the PSL. It’s not like there’s no money to take the player through the recovery process.”
The non-compliance of contractual obligations has been exposed at clubs that bought their way to the top – through buying status or change of administrative personnel.
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Clubs and bosses that recently emerged in this way – Swallows, TS Galaxy and the Zungu hierarchy – saw their names being dragged in the mud recently for their administrative frailties.
“We brought up the issue (of players protesting for not getting paid on time) previously. We have spoken about it,” Gaoshubelwe explained. “We do understand that there are challenges as well.
“However, one of the key things that might assist is the issue of the financial fair play, asking can one really run a club and all that. What we want is stability within the football industry as well.”
With the number of released players set to increase in the next few weeks, Gaoshubelwe confirmed that they are already in talks with some of the free agents, giving them legal and psychological help.