FIFPro keen to protect players in China amid debt concerns
Global players' union FIFPro wants to play a role in ensuring the rights of footballers in China are protected after the country's Football Association told clubs to sort out their finances or risk being denied the opportunity to compete in 2018.
Thirteen clubs in China's top flight, as well as four from the second division and one from the third tier, were named in a letter sent by the CFA claiming all 18 had debts outstanding that could see them denied entry into next year's competitions.
The move was sparked by a letter from the Asian Football Confederation stating clubs had until August 31 to clear all outstanding payments or face exclusion from next year's AFC Champions League.
"In light of China's strong commitment to developing football, FIFPro would like to work with local authorities, the AFC, FIFA, and other relevant stakeholders, to help China achieve the highest possible standards of football governance," FIFPro said in a statement.
Chinese clubs have spent huge sums on transfer fees and wages to entice some of the biggest names in the game to the Chinese Super League as the country aims to turn itself into a leading power in the sport.
While players such as Carlos Tevez, Oscar and Ezequiel Lavezzi have been able to command huge salaries, there have been concerns about the financial stability at some clubs.
In May, Australian duo James Holland and Robbie Kruse had their contracts with Liaoning Whowin annulled after intervention by players' welfare body Professional Footballers Australia.
"Media reports this week revealed several Chinese Super League clubs are falling behind on payments, and FIFPro wishes to ensure that affected players have somewhere to turn to for help, if needed," it said.
"Players in China do not have the benefit of a local players' association to protect their interests.
"In time, the establishment of an association which protects the players and ensures their voices are represented in administering the sport would be beneficial to further enhance China's plan to become a global football powerhouse."
There may be more than a few stumbling blocks to FIFPro's ambitions, not least that Chinese workers do not have the right to join or form trade unions of their own choice.