Bulgarian FA must cancel unlawful Antonov ban
Friday 01 March
FIFPro demands that the Bulgarian football association (BFU) cancel the unlawful registration ban of Miroslav Antonov. The 26-year old striker is in a hopeless situation due to the illegal behavior of both his club PFC Ludogorest and the BFU. FIFPro is forced to turn to FIFA in order to restore the status of the player.
Miroslav Antonov is a 26-year old striker who joined PFC Ludogorets in 2011. He signed a contract with the club (current Bulgarian champions) commencing on February 22nd 2011 and due to expire on June 30th 2014. This is an illegal contract, as the Bulgarian Labour Code and the BFU Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players do not allow a fixed term contract to last longer than three years.
Despite the contract, PFC Ludogorets seemingly had no future plans involving Antonov playing for their team. After appearing in 8 matches during the 2010/2011 season, he did not play in the first half of the 2011/2012 season. During the entire 2012 year Antonov was sent on loan to Montana, another Bulgarian premier league club.
On January 7th 2013 Antonov returned to PFC Ludogorest, to start training for the second half of the season. But after arriving on the training complex, he was informed that he was not allowed to train with the club’s first team.
On January 14th PFC Ludogorest took 27 players on training camp to Turkey, without Antonov. He received a written instruction ordering him to train individually and with the youth team of PFC Ludogorest. Antonov attended the training sessions, although they were held without the supervision of a FIFA licensed coach, which is mandatory according to the BFU regulations. There was also no medical support of a qualified doctor at the training ground, which is also mandatory.
Antonov sent several protest letters to the club management to address these issues, but to no avail. Consequently, on January 16th, the player terminated his contract with immediate effect, based on the Bulgarian Labour Code.
PFC Ludogorest did not react.
At the end of January, Antonov went to Israel for a tryout with Hapoel Ramat Gan. PFC Ludogorest responded in a fax sent to both the club and the Israeli FA claiming that Antonov was still under contract with the Bulgarian club. Antonov was then let go by Hapoel Ramat Gan.
Back in Bulgaria, PFC Slavia Sofia wanted to sign Antonov. But this deal also failed. The BFU refused to register Antonov with Slavia Sofia, after the Sports-Technical Committee had decided that the player had terminated his contract with PFC Ludogorest without just cause. This is against Bulgarian Labour Law and FIFA regulations. Firstly, the right to review labour disputes belongs exclusively to the civil courts. Secondly, the Sports-Technical Committee is not an arbitration body but an administrative organ. This committee has no jurisdiction on this matter.
However, the Sports-Technical Committee decided to put an unlimited registration ban on Antonov.
Due to the behavior of PFC Ludogorest and the BFU, the situation of Miroslav Antonov is hopeless. He cannot play or train at PFC Ludogorest. He cannot register with any other club in Bulgaria or abroad. He is more or less forced to find another job…
To FIFPro, PFC Ludogorets’ behavior is incomprehensible. The club refuses to provide Miroslav Antonov with the work he was hired for. The club also refuses to accept the player’s termination of the contract. And the club is also preventing the player from finding a new employer.
FIFPro cannot accept the decision by the Bulgarian football union. The registration ban is illegitimate. Case law from the Matuzalem Case learns that a permanent labour ban is contrary to Human Rights Treaties.
FIFPro cannot accept these practices and will address the situation of Miroslav Antonov with FIFA.
The case of Miroslav Antonov is not a detached incident. FIFPro has received information about more players who are in similar situations due to the behavior of their club and/or the BFU. This must not happen again.
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