Cristiano Ronaldo now plays for Al-Nassr. (Credit: Twitter)
Unpaid wages and contract breaches have been alleged towards several Saudi Arabian clubs.
Saudi Pro League (SPL) have been ‘ordered to pay $16 million to players’ in 21 cases by FIFA after being found guilty of not paying due wages to their footballers. As the transfer window closed on September 7, Saudi Arabian clubs reportedly spent nearly $1 billion in big-player moves which saw a host of starts move to the Middle-Eastern country. Footballers including Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar, Karim Benzema, Sadio Mane and Riyad Mahrez are now playing in the SPL. However, reports from the Athletic suggest that a series of legal jousts between the clubs and the players have taken place in recent years. Unpaid wages and contract breaches have been alleged towards several Saudi Arabian clubs including Ronaldo’s Al Nassr.
FIFPRO had previously warned several footballers against signing for teams in Saudi Arabia after money being owed to players had become a “recurring problem”. In one such case, former Nottingham Forest forward Lewis Grabban’s two-year contract with Al Ahli was terminated right after three months when the player claimed that he was owed $400,000 in wages. Grabban demanded £2.2 million as compensation for the unpaid wages and pending signing fees from the club. After seeking legal action against Al Ahli, Grabban was provided with a payout of $700,000. FIFA also imposed some sanctions on Al Ahli, banning them from registering new players for two consecutive registration periods.
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In a similar case, reported by The Athletic, Argentinean player Lisandro Alzugaray’s contract was also ripped after 38 days. The Al Ahli Chiefs terminated the player’s contract without an explanation when he was recovering from an ankle injury. The case was again sent to FIFA who ordered Al Ahli to pay a compensation amount to Alzugaray and another $260,000 for the owed signing fee and monthly wage. Tunisia international Hamdi Nagguez was also paid $425,445 in pending payments alongside a compensation of $444,445 in another case.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s Al Nassr also had a transfer ban enforced before a settlement was reached with Brazilian midfielder Petros. The case is still ongoing as the club has been ordered to pay the player a fee of $2.5 million. Al Nassr also disposed of the Moroccan forward Abderrazak Hamdallah claiming that they were ‘fed up’ with the player’s unprofessional attitude. In a third case, Everton’s Ferreira Guimaraes who’s also known as Kaka reportedly angered the club by approaching the Saudi Arabian sports minister for help after not receiving due payments. When paid a compensation amount of $87,000 the player accused his employers of keeping his family hostage, preventing them from leaving the country.
With the formation of the Saudi Football Players Association in 2021, some progress has been made as the FIFA cases have dropped in the last six months. However, it appears that a lot of work is yet to be done in the kingdom.