Football: a complaint denounces the practice of “lofting” within clubs

The National Union of Professional Footballers (UNFP) filed a complaint against AFP the union’s lawyers.

According to this complaint consulted by AFP, these clubs impose on players “brutal isolation and multiple pressures” to push them to extend their contract or on the contrary to accept a transfer, a way of separating from them by ensure you receive compensation. The union accuses the international federation (Fifa) in particular of participating in this “extortion” by imposing “a framework” which places the employing club “in a dominant position”.

The club “prevents” the player from exercising

A player is linked to his club by a fixed-term contract. If he is transferred before its end, the club receives termination compensation from the player’s new club, which is not the case if the player has completed his contract before changing. During the transfer period, some clubs place the players they want to part with in a so-called “loft” reserve, a sort of storage space adapted to the grass: no more training with the professional group, no more travel or matches.

The club “prevents” the player from carrying out “his professional activity under normal conditions”, and this player can therefore no longer “consider executing his contract until its end”, summarizes the complaint. The player who wants to return to the competition will therefore leave the club or, conversely, extend his contract. These practices, “very widespread” constitute “criminal offenses”, underlined the lawyers of the UNFP, Messrs Julia Minkowski and Léon del Forno, in a press release sent to AFP.

“A moral constraint”

Exercising “moral constraint” to get a person “to agree to sign a contract or to terminate it constitutes the offense of extortion”, they detailed. “The repeated actions of an employer” which result in a “deterioration of working conditions likely to infringe the rights of the employee or compromise his professional future” constitute harassment, they will continue. The UNFP bases its complaint on a list of around fifty players placed in lofts but who were not involved in the preparation of this complaint.

Among them, world champion Kylian Mbappé at Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), who notably did not play a match with his club from June 19 to August 19, 2023. “Rare”, however, are the players who attacked their clubs for fear of “retaliation”, deplores the union. Among these exceptions is former international goalkeeper Stéphane Ruffier. Coincidence of the calendar: the latter obtained on Monday the conviction of AS Saint-Etienne, who must pay him 850,000 euros in compensation.

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