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MBABANE – Issues of players taking their teams to the Players’ Status Committee over owed salaries might be a thing of the past.
FIFA and the world players’ union (FifPro) have set up a US$16 million (about E238 million) global fund that will be channelled towards part payment of salaries to players owed by clubs. These include players from clubs who have since perished due to insolvency.

The FIFA Fund for Football Players will provide financial support to players that have not been and will not be paid by their clubs.
This is according to the report from the FIFA website released on Tuesday. It has also been reported across the African continent. It will be split into a yearly allocation up to 2022 and will become operational from July 1 this year. Of the total amount, FIFA said US$5 million (about E74 million) was set aside for players affected between July 2015 and June 2020.

A number of Eswatini teams have struggled to pay players’ salaries owing to the prevailing economic situation, among other issues.
Clubs such Manzini Wanderers and Mhlume Peacemakers are some of the teams that have struggled to pay salaries recently. The former were derailed by the departure of a director Mehluli Nhlengetfwa late last year.

 About E42 million is set to be released in 2020.  About E112 million will be equally distributed between 2021 and the following year.
 In a statement, FIFA said the latest agreement called for the establishment of a monitoring committee composed of FIFA and Fifpro representatives to process and act on applications for grants.

“While these grants will not cover the full amount of salaries owed to players, this fund will provide an important safety net,” said FIFA.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino said the agreement and “our commitment to helping players in a difficult situation show how we interpret our role as world football’s governing body”.

He said the world football governing body was “here to reach out to those in need, especially within the football community, and that starts with the players, who are the key figures in our game”.

More than 50 clubs in 20 countries are said to have shut in the last five years, plunging hundreds of footballers into uncertainty and hardship.
“This fund will provide valuable support to those players and families most in need. Many of these clubs have shut to avoid paying outstanding wages, immediately re-forming as so-called new clubs. Fifpro has long campaigned against this unscrupulous practice and thanks FIFA for combating it in its disciplinary code.”

Players to benefit for this gesture in the country are mainly those in the National First Division and Premier League, as they have professional contracts with clubs.
Eswatini Football Association (EFA) Marketing and Communications Officer Muzi Radebe said his office would only comment on getting an official correspondence from the global football body.

“My hands are tied at the moment until we get a formal correspondence. If the reports are anything to go by, it can be good, as some players are breadwinners,” he said.

Meanwhile, in 2019, FIFA revised its disciplinary code, wherein it bolstered the framework for dealing with non-payment of players’ wages, with players allowed to terminate their contracts if their clubs fail to pay them for at least two consecutive months.

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