Money and football, it goes hand in hand. Players understandably want to maximise their career earnings and so look to get the best wages they possibly can, which often involves moving clubs, with commercial deals added to the ever increasing pot.
When it comes to international duty, countries pay various match fees and bonuses, which are decided by the national football association. Players from some countries, including England, are thought to donate their fees to charity, whereas for many countries the payments can be a crucial part of a footballer’s income.
In Europe, the country which seems to have most media coverage of international football payments is Belgium, and with regular occurrence there are reports detailing disagreements between Belgium’s players and their national association.
In May, as Euro 2016 was approaching, Belgian newspaper HLN covered the latest commercial income disagreement and Vincent Kompany’s leadership of the situation, which was more an update on a long standing issue. We covered it at the time, and explained:
‘Kompany is out of Euro 2016 with injury, but he’s the national team captain when fit and so holds responsibility for player problems. The Manchester City player will take that responsibility very seriously indeed and his actions show that.
HLN say Kompany has sent a letter to his Belgium teammates asking them what they would like to do about a long standing image rights disagreement. Belgian players agreed to take part in commercial activity around the national team, and expect paying for it, some have been and some haven’t been.
Kompany, having taken legal advice, has been able to present a series of options to his Belgian colleagues. One of those options is all out war, they could release a collective statement to the media and refuse to take part in commercial activity.
A more peaceful way of going about things, but still quite serious, is to inform the national association that this has to be sorted, with a meeting scheduled for after Euro 2016. The association would have to sign a contract with the players, basically promising they’ll manage the finances and payments better in the future.’
On Friday, La Dernière Heure have an update about payments ahead of the 2018 World Cup . The Belgian newspaper explain: ”At present, the Red Devils are the highest paid squad… on the planet, as they pocket a total of 60% of Uefa and Fifa premiums pocketed by the Federation. As DH revealed on Tuesday, negotiations started and the Belgian Union hopes that this amount is largely revised downwards (from 40% to 50%).’
Thibaut Courtois, Eden Hazard, Jan Vertonghen and Thomas Vermaelen are appointed as representatives of the board of players, and DH says they spoke to the national football association, and were left ‘negatively surprised’ by the proposed change. It’s then stated that Vincent Kompany has asked the others to await his return to negotiate.
There’s confidence a deal can be reached, from the side of the Belgian football authorities at least.
Earlier this week, DH also reported new manager Roberto Martinez wanted to change how money raised from squad fines was used. Martinez is set to discipline players who are late for training, and who break other rules, just like what happens with most football squads.
DH explained: ‘The big novelty is about the money in the pot that isn’t used for group activities anymore, like it was often the case under Wilmots. Martinez wants the money to go to charity.’
Belgian fans seem to be split between criticising the players and association for the issue. There’s every chance the players give their own share to charity, but this seems to be much more an issue in Belgium in recent years than elsewhere in major European footballing countries.
Belgium are currently ranked second in the world, and with that success comes greater income. The Notorious B.I.G. put it well: Mo Money, Mo Problems.