GENEVA (AP) — The global footballers' union wants talks with FIFA, UEFA and the European Union about clubs using "blackmail behavior" players into signing new contracts.
FIFPro on Wednesday highlighted the cases of Netherlands playmaker Wesley Sneijder at Inter Milan and Spain forward Fernando Llorente at Athletic Bilbao, saying both players are being denied first-team action.
The union said Inter wants Sneijder to sign a one-year extension for no extra money, and that Llorente has been benched for not renewing a deal which expires next June. "The way in which contracts are handled is also a disaster for FIFA and UEFA," said FIFPro secretary general Theo van Seggelen, who is a member of both governing bodies' strategy committees. "Unfortunately, we now see clubs in all countries in Europe using this type of measure. For us, the time has come to sound the bell."
FIFPro, an umbrella group of unions representing 50,000 players worldwide, published a statement on its website under a headline referring to "blackmail behavior" by clubs. "I do not understand how it benefits a club not to play a player," van Seggelen said. "As a club, you are damaging the career of that player. And then? Do you benefit from that as a club?"
The Dutch official said clubs must respect contracts in the same way they are demanding of their players. "FIFPro understands that in financially difficult times, clubs want to reduce players' salaries," van Seggelen said. "But if you want to offer a player a lower contract, you must only do that at the end of his current contract."
Inter spokesman Luigi Crippa told The Associated Press that the club had not made any formal offer to Sneijder, who was key to the club winning the Champions League and Serie A titles in 2010. "We haven't talked about the contract yet and we won't until Sneijder shows that he wants to talk with Inter," Crippa said. "Until now he's shown that he doesn't want to consider anything."
AP Sports Writer Andrew Dampf in Rome contributed to this report