Football: Clubs and agents accused of `slavery'

A leading Belgian law professor has accused football of "slavery" in the game's treatment of players from Eastern Europe.

Roger Blanplain, a professor at Belgium's Leuven university, said yesterday that he is taking court action against agents and clubs for their methods.

"That sort of slave trade in which someone is bought cheaply and sold expensively... totally violates the basic principle that people are not merchandise and labour is not a merchandise, and this has to be challenged in a radical way," Blanpain said.

In an open letter he urged the chief prosecutors in the cities of Antwerp and Bruges to investigate trade of Eastern European players "which apparently takes place on a large scale in Belgium".

Blanpain was acting after a newspaper article in Het Nieuwsblad on Tuesday describing the large influx of players from East Europe.

The paper said "the delivery of Yugoslav and Croatian footballers to Belgium "was often organised through an Antwerp agent.

"These players are often placed at a club-employer and then possibly sold with a profit to another club-employer," Blanpain said in the letter.

He said these practices violated Belgian law which prohibited the broking of jobs in exchange for money.

Blanpain also criticised the move earlier this week of Bruges player Gunter Verjans to Antwerp on loan for a six-month period.

The move of Verjans, who has a contract with Bruges until 2000, breached the law on temporary employment, Blanpain said.

He asked the Antwerp and Bruges courts to examine the practices and, if needed, start legal proceedings to end them and prevent them from happening again.

Blanpain said it had been difficult to prove the trade in players.

"Players can't speak or don't dare to speak, club leaders will certainly not speak and agents are also very careful about what they say." he said.

"[But] now it can be proven, now there are clear facts showing there is a swindle in players." he said in a reference to the newspaper article.

Belgian football agent, Louis De Vries, told a radio station that agents were just trying to help players find a job, for a commission fee.

"As long as these [transfer] rules are valid internationally, there is nothing that can be done against it.

"[But] it would be easier for everyone in footall, also for agents and certainly for players, if no transfer sums would have to be paid." De Vries said.

West Ham are to wait until they know the full extent of goalkeeper Ludek Miklosko's neck injury before deciding whether to pursue the French international, Bernard Lama.

Miklosko could be ruled out for up to three months, but the Hammers, who have Canada international Craig Forrest as their current No 1, will not be rushed into finding a replacement until they know for sure.

Lama was yesterday reported to have confirmed he had already been involved in talks with the West Ham managing director, Peter Storrie, about a possible move to London.

The 34-year-old Paris St Germain goalkeeper, who has been capped 35 times by France, has been searching for a new club since being suspended for three months at the end of last season following a positive drugs test.

The French national coach, Aime Jacquet has told him he will not be considered for next year's World Cup finals unless he is playing regular first-team football.

Lama said: "I've no comment to make until things are settled. But I need to find a club to make France's World Cup squad."

Two Romanians playing in the Bundesliga, Ionut Lupescu and Florin Raducioiu, said yesterday that they would not play for their country at next summer's World Cup finals in France.

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
voicesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
Life and Style
tech

Apple has been hit by complaints about the 1.1GB download

Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff
tv

News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife
film

Matt Smith is set to join cast of the Jane Austen classic - with a twist

Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC
tv

Much-loved cartoon character returns - without Sir David Jason

Arts and Entertainment
tv

Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me
tv

Actress to appear in second series of the hugely popular crime drama

Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
Life and Style
i100

Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Nursery assistants required in Cambridge

£10000 - £15000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Nursery assistants re...

Year 4 Teacher

£20000 - £31000 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Would you like to wo...

English Teacher Thetford Secondary

£110 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Cambridge: An Academy based in Thetfor...

Year 1 Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Would you like to work at ...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week