MFPA calls for an end to “financial exploitation of children in Maltese football”

The Malta Football Players Association issued a statement in which it called for an end to the “financial exploitation of children in Maltese football.”

The MFPA claims that “children playing football in Malta are sometimes treated as financial commodities.”

“A child is tied to a specific club for a three-year period between the ages of 12 and 15 and a further four-year obligatory period between the ages of 15 and 19. A child cannot move to another nursery without the consent of the club even if he/she is unhappy or is not getting playing time.”

“In other words, a child is the club’s property. Freedom comes at a price. If a player wants to move to another club, the parents are often asked to pay a transfer fee which most often goes into the thousands. All this in addition to the yearly membership and kit fees.”

“Unfortunately, this system creates situations where minor amateur practically are at the mercy of their clubs and treated as commodities.”

“The MFPA (Malta Football Players Association) has taken action by filing a claim with the Office of the Commissioner for Children on behalf of numerous parents who have approached the players association over the years. Unfortunately, this trend is increasingly becoming the norm.”

“This practice blatantly contradicts the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child as children are being exploited for economic gain, denying them the right to leisure and impeding their ability to freely participate in cultural life.”

“A recent incident involved the parents of a 16-year-old who were asked to pay 5,000 Euro for their son to be able to move to another club even if his playing opportunities were limited. In another case, the parents of 3 players aged between 16 and 17 years had to fork out 1500 Euro each and this above the 400 Euro annual membership fee and 180 Euro annual kit fee.”

Meanwhile in response to the MFPA press release, the Malta Football Association issued a statement to clairify matters.

“On the matter of registration of young players, significant steps have been made since the days when the registration of a young footballer at 14 years old would keep him tied to the same club until he turned 21 unless the club was willing to release him.”

“Since 2020 the payment of so-called Nursery compensation is no longer payable when a player moves club at the end of any of the registration periods, at 15 and 19 years old. Furthermore, training compensation for amateur players is only payable if and once they are registered as professionals in line with FIFA rules.”

“This is thanks to constant dialogue within a forum that exists precisely for this purpose, namely the Social Dialogue Committee, which brings together representatives of clubs and players, and therefore MFPA itself.”

“Individual cases where young players are not allowed to move between clubs within their obligatory period of registration are not necessarily reflective of the entire system.”

“Sport is a specific context where the individual and collective rights at play are to be balanced with a view of maintaining high participation levels while safeguarding development and investment therein. “

“While the Association acknowledges there is always room for improvement, it needs to ensure that any proposed changes to its regulatory framework take place following a discussion that reflects the interests of all stakeholders involved. In this sense, the Association is nowadays much more open to receiving the views of its stakeholders, as proven by recent developments achieved, thanks to the contribution of players and club representatives. “

“Proposals are currently being discussed on how the regulatory framework could be improved and the parties concerned, including the MFPA, agreed to reconvene in the next couple of weeks to discuss the matter further.”