With growing fear among I-League players of missing out on their salaries, the Football Players Association of India said that any case of clubs activating the ‘Force Majeure’ clause in the players’ contract without their consent because of the Covid-19 pandemic will be taken as an issue of non-payment.
The ‘Force Majeure’ is a contractual clause that allows a party to suspend or terminate the performance of its obligations when an extraordinary event or circumstance beyond their control takes place.
On Monday, East Bengal decided to activate the Force Majeure clause and prematurely terminate contracts of their players and support staff with effect from April 30, citing the Covid-19 pandemic as a reason after the 2019-’20 I-League season was cancelled earlier last week. Bangalore-based Quess Corp Limited, who joined as an investor in 2018, had earlier announced midway during the I-League season that they would be snapping their ties with the club from May 31.
It is learnt that as many as four Indian players, most from East Bengal and few other overseas players from Chennai City FC have now approached FPAI, member of world body FIFPro, over the issue.
“For us, this is a simple case of non-payment to Indian players,” an FPAI official told Scroll.in.
“With regards to the foreigners, we will be forwarding the case to the Fifa’s Dispute Resolution Chambers. FIFPro has told us that as per their dialogues with Asian Football Confederation and Fifa, the Force Majeure clause has to be a mutual termination. They have made it clear that player contracts cannot be ended unilaterally citing the pandemic. Unless, it’s not a mutual termination, every case is going to be taken as a non-payment issue.”
The official added that the FPAI also had a word with associated clubs over the matter off the record, who are yet to respond to the Association.
“The clubs will be at a loss if they decide to make this legal,” he said.
“We have told the clubs to come to an amicable solution with the players although they haven’t responded to us officially.”
Scroll.in had earlier reported that most I-League clubs had would hold back the salaries of the players and their staff for the months of April and May under the current circumstances despite clearing most of the payments until March.
However, the official further questioned the decision of East Bengal to prematurely end contracts despite completing signings for the upcoming season, amid talks surrounding their entry into the Indian Super League.
“I-League clubs do not generate money through gate revenues or either television, so there’s absolutely no reason for them to activate the clause.”
“Take the A-League for example, their sponsors Fox Sports walked out halfway through a deal, as a result of which a big share of their revenue had been affected. If that was the case, we could have sat down with the clubs and come to an amicable solution. But for the I-League clubs, that’s not the case. If it is mentioned in a contract that a player has to be paid, they must be. There’s aren’t two ways about it.”
Mohun Bagan, who had already clinched the league before its suspension, were declared as champions of the current season by the All India Football Federation who announced that the remainder of the season was to be cancelled.