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FIFPro is advising players against joining two of the 12 clubs in Malta’s Premier League after evidence emerged of poor treatment of foreign footballers, including youngsters from Nigeria and the United States.

Players who recently signed contracts with Mosta FC and Pembroke Athleta have told the world players union they were housed in cramped conditions, and were ignored or even threatened when they complained about not getting paid on time.

Aiming to launch their career in European football, dozens of young players from outside the European Union have been lured to sign contracts with clubs in Malta because it is relatively easy to secure a working visa.

However, most players on the Mediterranean island earn less than $2,000 per month and, according to the recently-released 2016 FIFPro Global Employment Report, 79% are not paid on time. Almost half (49%) are not satisfied with medical support.

One teenaged American player told FIFPro that he signed a contract with Pembroke with the intention of kick-starting his career in Europe but his complaints about not even being paid a meager salary of 700 euros per month on time were ignored.

“I tried complaining but they really don’t care about foreign players,” he said. “My words pretty much meant nothing to the club.”

He was among five American players offered contracts in Malta after a U.S.-based academy arranged for him to play in a trial game in Sweden to showcase his skills. He spent more than $4,000 on travel and accommodation.

FIFPro has also spoken to several Nigerians who said they were among 15 foreign players squeezed into a four-bedroom house after signing to play for Mosta. Some complained of the cold because the home had no central heating.

Malta Premier League rules only allow clubs to field seven foreign players per match, meaning that they were easily expendable.

“They can bring African players at any time, they just get rid of the old ones,” one of the Nigerians said. “Nigerian players are better off in Africa.”

Players can contact FIFPro at info@fifpro.org or local union, the Malta Football Players Association, for advice before signing a contract.

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