Russian soccer clubs challenge FIFA rule on player contracts

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — Russian soccer clubs will challenge FIFA at sport’s highest court next month over emergency rules that let players suspend their contracts and leave since the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport set Nov. 21 for an appeal hearing brought against FIFA by eight clubs including Russian champion Zenit St. Petersburg.

The interim contract rules first applied by FIFA in March and renewed in June let players and coaches leave on loan to join clubs in other countries. Russian clubs are suspended from European competitions this season but the national league has continued.

The chief executive of Zenit, Alexander Medvedev, said in June the rules amounted to “robbery” and did not compensate clubs for players that left.

Ukrainian clubs like Shakhtar Donetsk also objected, and said agents tried to exploit uncertainty around its future and take contracted players for free.

Current FIFA rules allow players and coaches under contract in Russia and Ukraine to leave until the end of this season next June.

“These provisions give players and coaches the opportunity to train, play and receive a salary, while protecting Ukrainian clubs and facilitating the departure of foreign players and coaches from Russia,” FIFA said in June.

The global players’ union FIFPRO criticized the FIFA stance as “too timid” and had argued to allow contracts to be terminated outright.

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