The "new crown" has caused most of the global sports events to be suspended, and it has also brought huge financial pressure to professional clubs: on the one hand, the event cannot continue, resulting in loss of revenue; on the other hand, the contract continues, and the players and coaches have to pay high salaries. In order to relieve the pressure, all countries are seeking solutions. If you can't prevent the suspension of the league, you can only use your brains on the contract, but the labor contract is protected by the laws of various countries after all, and the end of the contract relationship is not what both parties want to see, so "salary reduction" has become a priority. Many countries are currently adopting measures related to "salary reduction", but these measures must comply with the laws of various countries and balance the interests of all parties, so they have received widespread attention.
From April 28th to 30th, 2020, the International Football Lawyers Association (AIAF) held three webinars to discuss the measures related to the "salary reduction" in national football leagues under the influence of the "new crown". On the 28th, the measures of European countries were exchanged, on the 29th, measures of Latin American countries were shared, and on the 30th, there was a special session for Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Since each conference has nearly 10 international football law lawyers to exchange their national measures, there are more than 200 football law lawyers from all over the world, FIFA arbitrators, International Sports Arbitration Tribunal (CAS) arbitrators and club officials Participating online, so the information exchanged will be relatively accurate and comprehensive.
As the only representative of football lawyers from China, Shanghai Hance Law Firm participated in the meeting and introduced relevant Chinese practices in the third session. Now combining the content of the meeting, we will summarize and summarize the measures involving "salary reduction" in some countries. .
On the night of April 28th, Beijing time, France had already announced by its prime minister that the football match this season would not continue, so the league ended early. This also means that the club has to deal with the related problems caused by the players and coaches' contracts that cannot be fulfilled this season.
At present, the "new crown" epidemic is recognized by FIFA as "force majeure". If the "force majeure" theory is followed, the contract caused by the epidemic cannot be performed or even terminated, or the employer will not be liable.
However, French law has a "partial activity" mechanism (Article 5-1-2-2 of the Labor Law), which is designed to prevent the termination of labor contracts and allow employers to arrange employees to engage in partial employment. At the same time, according to French law, "force majeure" can be invoked to terminate the contract and exempt from liability only when it is impossible to perform the contract. Therefore, many French lawyers and scholars believe that under the premise of a "partial employment" mechanism, it is difficult to determine that it is "impossible to perform the contract", and it is difficult to support the club's termination of the contract on the grounds of "force majeure".
So how does the French "partial employment" mechanism work?
First, if a club wants to apply for “partial employment” based on the epidemic, according to the March 25 decree, the club no longer needs to obtain prior review and approval, and there is no need to discuss or negotiate with players and coaches before applying. Since the players and coaches’ contracts have been protected from being terminated, they also have no right to refuse "partial employment" and cannot claim that the club breaches the contract because of "partial employment";
Second, the "partial employment" measures should be collective, and the club cannot make one player "partially employed" while letting another player get full remuneration;
Third, in terms of the amount of salary, the mechanism allows employers to pay only 70% of the employees' gross salary, and the 70% of the gross salary does not need to pay social security;
Fourth, in terms of government support, employers can get 70% of the gross salary from the government (but the maximum limit is 7000 euros). In other words, for players and coaches with higher salaries, the club can receive up to 7,000 euros per person from the government.
The "partial employment" mechanism has been implemented by French clubs in March and April this year. Of course, on the basis of the implementation of this statutory mechanism, the club is also trying to negotiate with the players union, including salary cuts and delayed payments. Judging from the current situation, there has not been a collective agreement to accept a salary reduction. Some clubs and players have only reached an agreement to postpone part of the salary, while other clubs are trying to reach individual salary reduction agreements with high-paid players.
——Speaker: Patricia Moyersoen [France], Moyersoen Avocats Law Firm, AIAF Chairman
-发言人：Patricia Moyersoen [法国]，Moyersoen Avocats律师事务所，AIAF主席
Unlike France’s announcement of the end of the league this season, the United Kingdom is planning to restart the league. It has been announced that the Premier League will restart on June 8 and end the season at the end of July, completing the remaining 92 games of the season.
If the plan can be carried out smoothly, the players and coaches' contracts will still be fulfilled. Many Premier League clubs have resumed training a few days ago, and some foreign players have also been required to return to the team as soon as possible, so the contract performance looks relatively stable. , The salary issue is not as urgent as in France, but the adverse effects still exist. On the one hand, the health problems of the players and staff at the beginning of the match are still worrying. On the other hand, even if the league resumes, the door will be locked and empty. The club can’t get the broadcast fee income and must bear the expenses by itself. It is estimated that the British clubs this season may incur a loss of more than 700 million pounds in broadcasting fees in the worst case. Therefore, the financial pressure of British clubs still exists. Some clubs are negotiating with employee representatives on issues such as salary cuts, salary cuts, and late pay, and they need to obtain the unanimous consent of employees. The problems faced by the Scottish League are similar. The difference is that Scotland has decided to terminate the second, third, and fourth level leagues this season through voting by professional football league clubs. As a result, more clubs in Scotland face salary negotiations earlier. Matters.
In response to the epidemic, the United Kingdom has implemented the "New Crown Virus Job Retention Program", which allows employees to retain their jobs, and the government provides subsidies at 80% of their wages, with an upper limit of £2500 per person per month.
——Speaker: Carol Couse [UK], Mills & Reeve LLP
There are currently rumors in Germany that one-third of clubs may go bankrupt, and the situation is more serious. However, based on the uncertainty of the current epidemic and the uncertainty of whether the season will continue, specific measures have not yet emerged to address the epidemic.
Germany also has a "partial employment" law similar to France. The government will subsidize 60% of each person's monthly salary, with an upper limit of 6,900 euros, but it may not help the German clubs that are currently facing difficulties.
In addition, there is no clear legal provision in Germany for the suspension of contracts or automatic salary cuts. There are only some situations where bankruptcy may support a salary cut, but clubs usually do not do so.
Therefore, at present, more and more German clubs are mainly trying to relieve financial pressure by negotiating with players. Some have proposed a 20% salary reduction, and some have proposed to postpone the payment of most salaries.
——Speaker: Joachim Rain [Germany], Schickhardt Rechtsanwalte Law Firm
-发言人：Joachim Rain [德国]，Schickhardt Rechtsanwalte律师事务所
Under the epidemic situation, the legal weapon owned by the Spanish club is called "ERTE"-the temporary employment supervision system. When the club proves that it is obviously impossible to perform the original job (such as being unable to train, play or do anything), it can suspend the contract and place the players and staff in a "temporary employment" status with the approval of the relevant department.
Under the "ERTE" system, employees can receive 70% of their wages from the state as subsidies, with an upper limit of 1100-1400 Euros per person per month. In contrast, employers can save corresponding expenses, but it is obviously a drop in the bill, so not many clubs choose this system.
In fact, a more effective way is still to negotiate a "salary reduction" with players. At present, a major Spanish club proposes to players that if the league has not resumed, the salary will be reduced by 20%; if the game resumes without spectators, the salary will be reduced by 10%. Some clubs are still watching and have not yet made a decision.
——Speaker: Juan de Dios CRESPO PÉREZ [Spain], RUIZ-HUERTA & CRESPO Law Firm
-发言人：Juan de Dios CRESPOPÉREZ[西班牙]，RUIZ-HUERTA＆CRESPO律师事务所
It is not yet certain when the Italian league will resume. If it cannot resume before mid-June, the season may not be completed. The Italian Football Association is also waiting for the government's decision.
In Italy, there are no collective contract measures, and there are no specific provisions on “force majeure” in the labor-management negotiation agreement. In addition, there is no clear social mechanism to reduce the damage to families caused by the epidemic. Since the crisis broke out, the football family is still waiting for the help and guidance of the Italian government.
Although there is a provision in Italian civil law that is similar to the principle of "hardship", that is, when one party becomes too difficult or unable to perform the contract, the result of this provision is often the termination of the contract rather than a salary reduction. The contract is not the club's intention, so the regulation is unlikely to be invoked by the club.
Therefore, Italy mainly resolves salary issues through negotiation and negotiation. At present, the player union and professional league have held several meetings. Some clubs have reached consensus with the player union, such as Juventus and Roma, and some are still under discussion.
——Speaker: Stefano La Porta [Italy], Gallavotti Bernardini & Partners
-发言人：Stefano La Porta [意大利]，Gallavotti Bernardini＆Partners
Belgium recognizes that the epidemic is "force majeure" and can claim suspension of the contract based on the "impossibility to perform the contract". Since Belgium does not have a “partial employment” system like France, “impossibility of contract performance” is relatively easier to determine than France, so it is possible to terminate the contract. Once the contract is supported, the club can stop paying salaries. However, at this stage, Belgium is also cautious about the "impossible to perform the contract" judgment, because it still depends on the government to decide when to resume the league.
Therefore, if the French club cannot terminate the contract due to the "partial employment" system after the season has been confirmed, then the Belgian club will judge whether the contract can be suspended based on whether the season continues or ends.
In addition, in the Belgian social security system, there is a "public unemployment allowance" system that applies to employers in all industries. This system will allow players and other employees to receive temporary unemployment allowance, which is 70% of the gross salary, and the maximum limit is 2,352 euros for players. , Coach 2,754 euros. Most Belgian teams with lower budgets have decided to use this system.
Of course, it is also negotiation and negotiation that is more helpful to solve the salary problem. Belgium does not have a mandatory procedure for collective labor negotiation, so the negotiation can be conducted individually by the club, the players and the coach. At present, some clubs and players have reached a consensus to lower their salaries month by month by 20%-50%; there are also agreements between clubs and players that the wages for the next 4, 5, and 6 months will only be paid for two months.
——Speaker: Sébastien LEDURE [Belgium], CRESTA Law Firm
Dutch law does not have mandatory provisions on "salary reduction", and generally it can only be negotiated by both parties. Although Dutch law also stipulates that the contract cannot be fulfilled due to force majeure, it is very difficult in practice to defend against force majeure.
However, in terms of government measures, the Netherlands has issued strong financial support for the "new crown" epidemic. On March 18, the government issued a policy that if employers meet certain conditions, including not dismissing any employees, they announced that they will continue to pay 100% in full. Salaries, etc., the Dutch government compensates eligible employers for their labor costs. In view of this, eligible clubs can receive compensation for three months from the government (the monthly compensation can be up to 90% of the salary). So far, players and coaches of Dutch clubs have been paid 100%, and there has been no pay cut.
However, the Dutch government recently decided that there will be no football matches before September 1, 2020. In this case, the season will be over. In this case, it may be difficult to maintain strong government financial support for a long time, so the Dutch Football Association and the players' union have also begun discussions on a salary reduction solution. It is understood that a club is currently proposing to its employees: a larger contract with a salary reduction rate of 20%, and a smaller contract with a salary reduction rate of less than 20%.
——Speaker: Frans de Weger [Netherlands], BMDW Advocaten Law Firm
Based on the "Guidelines on Football Management Issues in Response to the New Crown Epidemic" issued by FIFA on April 7, the Chinese Football Association first organized a video seminar for representatives of professional league clubs at all levels on April 9. Representatives of professional football clubs at all levels expressed respect for FIFA and The guidance of the Chinese Football Association agrees in principle that the club and the players shall implement a reasonable salary reduction based on a uniform standard for the whole team after full consultation. The salary reduction period is from March 1, 2020 to the start day of the 2020 season league.
Then on April 22, the Chinese Football Association issued a "Joint Statement" specifically for salary reductions, suggesting that players and coaches should reduce their salary by no less than 30% during the salary reduction cycle. There are two schemes for the payment of salary: the first is to pay the salary on time and according to the adjusted amount each month; the second is to temporarily follow the club’s local monthly minimum wage standard or 10% of the monthly salary under the relevant contract before the start of the game ( (Whichever is higher) pay wages; after the start of the game and before the end of the season, the difference that has not been paid during the salary reduction period will be made up.
At present, some clubs have started salary negotiations with players. One Chinese club has announced that it will implement a 10-50% pay cut in consultation with players and coaches. Other clubs are still on the sidelines.
It is worth noting that the Chinese Football Association is not only the manager of the Chinese football industry, but also the largest shareholder of the Chinese Super League, and its policies are often respected and implemented by clubs. However, the “salary reduction” policy this time is only a guiding suggestion and is not mandatory. It is mainly negotiated by the club, the players and the coach. The reasons may be as follows:
1. There are no professional leagues and player unions in the Chinese League, so it is impossible to discuss salary reductions through these organizations.
2. There is no “partial employment” or “temporary unemployment” in China, and it is impossible to rely on government relief funds to pay employees' salaries while significantly reducing or even stopping pay. Of course, the Chinese government has provided a lot of support for the fight against the epidemic. For players who have contracted new crown pneumonia in China, the Chinese government has provided free testing and free treatment. The Chinese Super League and China League One’s "new crown" infections have all recovered;
3. For foreign players and coaches, it is not easy for Chinese clubs to negotiate salary reductions with them. Some foreign players and coaches have even clearly stipulated that obtaining 100% of the salary is a prerequisite for signing the work contract;
4. In addition to introducing a fiscal balance policy similar to European restrictions on clubs, the Chinese Football Association has implemented a salary limit system for all Chinese league players since the beginning of the season. If salary reduction is discussed after the salary limit, it will protect the interests of players. It may not be enough, or there may be legal risks;
5. Generally, the total income from broadcasting, tickets, sponsorship, etc. of the Chinese Super League does not exceed 10% of the relegation team’s expenditure during the season. That is to say, in theory, even if the club does not have any income during the season, it will not substantially affect the investors or the club. Significant economic interests, and the financial pressure is relatively smaller than that of European clubs;
6. Based on the development trend of the epidemic, the start time of the Chinese Super League will be earlier than Europe or other regions. The Chinese Football Association has prepared many preparatory plans for the start, so the epidemic will not have a particularly large impact on the Chinese league and Chinese clubs.
——Speaker: Yue Xiaoyun [China], Shanghai Hance Law Firm
——speaker: Y UE ξ奥运 [China], Shanghai Han CE law firm
The Japanese league was originally scheduled to start on May 30, but it is now postponed, depending on the development of the situation to decide when to start. The Emperor's Cup competition was reduced from the original 88 clubs to 50, and the opening was postponed from May to September. There is no clear reopening date for the Women's Football League. So the Japanese league is currently on the sidelines, and some clubs and players have returned to training.
In terms of assistance, the Japanese government has announced that companies can obtain emergency funds in the form of low-interest, interest-free loans to pay employees' salaries. But in Japan, players and athletes are generally not considered employees who can receive government assistance. Therefore, the Japanese J-League mainly supports the club through financing. At present, the total amount of financing applied for by the J-League has exceeded 20 billion yen.
Regarding the negotiations between the club and the players union, there are currently some discussions about reducing the wages of the players, but no agreement has been reached. As of last Saturday, the players union announced that it believes players can contribute to the game in more than one way. It is expected that in the next few months, there will be in-depth negotiations on the issue of “salary reduction” based on the development of the epidemic.
——Speaker: Nan Sato [Japan], Field-R Law Offices
1. Although the "new crown" is "force majeure", it is difficult to be a reason for terminating player and coach contracts.
Advocating the termination of labor contracts on the grounds of "force majeure", the determination of "impossible to perform the contract" is very demanding. In practice, it is often difficult to determine that there is no possibility of continuing to perform the contract. Moreover, FIFA has always advocated maintaining contract stability and continuity. For the purpose, "salary reduction" is currently a more acceptable workaround.
2. "Wage reduction" must comply with the laws of each country, which is an international consensus.
Labor-management contracts are protected by national labor laws and other relevant laws and regulations. Even if "force majeure" affects the performance of obligations, whether the contract can be changed depends on the legal judgment of each country. Accordingly, FIFA also mentioned in the "Guidelines on Football Management Issues in Responding to the New Crown Epidemic" that "a player's employment contract should be governed by domestic laws and the principle of autonomy of the parties' will apply."
3. Regarding the "salary reduction", countries are currently basically resolved through negotiation rather than mandatory.
First, most countries have no legal basis for compulsory wage reductions.
Secondly, even if, for example, France has a "partial employment" mechanism, and if the club activates the mechanism, employees have no right to refuse, but the effect may not be better than negotiation. As a result, many French clubs still seek to negotiate with the player union while implementing the mechanism.
In addition, FIFA also recommends and encourages the settlement of salary cuts through consultation.
4. The different degree of impact of the epidemic situation in different countries on the competition leads to different urgency of "salary reduction".
For example, France and the Netherlands, which have determined that this season will end early, are advancing salary negotiations with the player union. In contrast, China, the United Kingdom, and Japan, which are already preparing to restart the game, are not many clubs that have begun to negotiate salary reductions.
5. The "salary reduction" standard should be unified within the team as much as possible, and the main body of negotiation is mostly represented by the player union.
Foreign negotiations involving players’ interests are mostly collective bargaining. The players’ union represents players in negotiations with clubs or professional leagues, which can play a more professional and active role in protecting the overall interests of players. The Chinese Football Association also suggested that the club implement a unified standard for the whole team on the issue of "salary reduction".