UEFA to confront club vs country compensation

January 26, 2006

Europe's governing body UEFA are to confront the thorny issue of clubs claiming compensation for players injured on international duty.

The matter is proving an increasing problem for the game's authorities with two classic club-versus-country rows ending up in court.

Belgian club Charleroi want damages after midfielder Abdelmajid Oulmers tore ankle ligaments while on international duty for Morocco in 2004 and their case is due to be heard in March.

The chairman of French champions Lyon, Jean-Michel Aulas, has also announced that legal action will be taken after defender Eric Abidal fractured his foot playing for France.

The two cases have been described by UEFA chief executive Lars Christer Olsson as potential powder kegs that could lead to landmark rulings as defining as Bosman.

Further claims could follow and so Olsson hopes a new initiative to insure players against injury during international tournaments will go some way towards appeasing Europe's top clubs and prevent legal action.

Such a system would only apply to the finals of major events - not friendlies or qualifying competitions - but it could be in place by this summer's World Cup and certainly by Euro 2004.

'If the two players currently in the spotlight would have had proper insurance, we probably would not have had either of these cases,' Olsson said.

'We have been asked by our executive committee to look into whether it is possible to find global solutions so that there will be proper insurance for players when they are playing for their national teams.

'A certain amount of the income would be allocated to cover insurance. We believe this could work and that it is better to agree things than to see each other in court.

'Some think if we can solve the insurance matter, that will sufficiently address compensation issues.'

Following a week of claims and counter-claims, UEFA have also announced their own investigation into the role of agents, drawing up a comprehensive list of recommendations designed to reduce corruption in the game.

After a third and final meeting of the so-called UEFA agents workshop - whose members include Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein - Olsson said some 50 recommendations had been drawn up to try to regulate the behaviour of agents across the continent.

Although UEFA are not revealing details of the recommendations, being delivered to FIFA within the next few weeks, it is understood they fall into three categories: what qualifies someone to become an agent, the agents' role in the game and how often conflicting regulations for perceived misdemeanours can be enforced.

'We have indications from some governments that they are afraid that some agents are involved in money-laundering,' said Olsson.

'There is a need for a global approach in terms of better control. Perhaps an agent should be checked every second year with an exam. We think that is a reasonable demand.

'Many of them handle huge amounts of money. Today any lawyer can seemingly act as agent.'