PETALING JAYA: You can’t cheat the country anymore!
The Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) have put a stop to the shady practice of signing “double contracts” which is prevalent among football clubs and players in the M-League.
The club will offer two contracts to a player – an official contract that is sent to and acknowledged by the FAM; and a higher-paying, unofficial one that the club and player are only privy to.
Clubs offer the second contract partly as a means to lower their employees’ provident fund contributions while players accept it as it’s more lucrative but problems with this practice usually surface when unpaid salary issues arise.
Although the dual-contract practice is a breach of the regulations, the unofficial contract is still considered legitimate by the court.
FAM secretary-general Stuart Ramalingam revealed that the practice will now cease to exist – thanks to an official document signed between the FAM and FIFA on Jan 7.
“FIFA’s stand is a contract is a contract ... whether it’s first or double. It’s whether we at FAM recognise it or not that’s important. And in a Status Committee meeting last November, a decision has been made that FAM will not recognise the second contract anymore,” said Stuart.
“We have never recognised it but when cases of double contract are brought to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), a contract is a contract – it’s recognised as such.
“But with an official communication with FIFA, they will not recognise second contracts in Malaysia anymore. We have communicated that it’s done in a way that’s fraudulent and cheating the country, and FIFA have acknowledged that.”
Stuart revealed that most of the culprits who commit the crime of non compliance and tax evasion are locals and it’s a situation which rarely happens in other countries.
“Foreign players usually don’t sign second contracts based on my understanding because they’re very afraid of breaking local rules and regulations.
“I’m not sure if this case happens with other federations but I’m sure it happens in the non-mature countries. Maybe in some South Asian countries and maybe African nations but in the most progressive countries, it’s difficult because their authorities are very strict.
“You can see global star players like Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi getting caught now,” added Stuart.
He added that club licensing enforced from last year under the privatisation of the M-League in 2015 is the right way to tackle the problem.
“It has been a culture and practice in Malaysia as long as I have known, so with the movement of declaration of assets and submission of contracts to FAM and transparency with where we are going with club licensing and pro football, we hope the states and clubs will take proactive action,” said Stuart.
“A lot of these cases are done to save a few ringgit but in the long run it actually runs against everybody because when a player takes a team to court, they pay for everything regardless of whether they want to or not.
“There’s a need for some maturity in this. We need to evolve, the FAM’s stand is we don’t recognise second contracts anymore – we only recognise contracts that are submitted to us.”
Stuart added that the Professional Football Players Association of Malaysia (PFAM) could play a bigger role in educating the players on “double contracts”.
“PFAM can educate the players to move from this culture, and I think they are moving that way,” said Stuart.
“The industry should realise that second contracts will never work anymore. If they’re willing to sign a second contract which can’t be legally enforced, then they must live with it if anything happens. The moment the second contract comes to the surface, they can be investigated by the tax authority and all that.
“Everyone needs to be aware of that when you have a second contract hidden under your pillow.
“It either can’t be enforced or the government will come after you.”
Stuart suggested that the PFAM talk to relevant authorities to ease footballers’ tax plights as most of them have short careers.
“PFAM can have talks with the right people in the government and where they need FAM’s support, we will assist but the call must come from the players – we can’t be thinking for them,” he added.
“A footballer’s career peaks around the age of 20 and most of them play into their mid 30s and after that, their earnings suffer a slump.
“So I think having a special taxation scheme will be the right way for footballers and athletes.”
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