FIFPRO Statement: Decision on non-compete clause in Malta


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FIFPRO welcomes the decision passed by the Appeals Board of the Malta Football Association, who declared a non-compete clause in a termination agreement signed between a player and club to be null and void.

In the context of a transfer to Saudi Arabia, a Maltese club requested Brazilian player Alex da Paixao Alves to sign a termination agreement which stipulated that should he return to Malta to play for any other Maltese side within the next 1.5 years, he would have to pay the club a penalty in the amount of EUR 20,000.

Given that the player did return to Malta, the club filed a claim to the Malta FA Complaints Board which granted the request and ordered the player to pay EUR 20,000.

In an appeal supported by the Malta Football Players Association and FIFPRO, the player argued that the relevant clause constituted an illegal restraint on employment – and that non-compete clauses cannot be valid in football, given a player does not possess any confidential or sensitive business-relevant information that would harm the former employer, which often may be a justification in other industries.

The Malta FA Appeals Board ultimately agreed that the clause was contrary to public policy – as well as a disproportionate and illegal restraint of trade – and overturned the decision and declared the clause null and void.