The most successful football club in Cyprus is putting psychological pressure on some players to break their contracts.
Apoel Nicosia, which plays Switzerland's Young Boys in the Europa League tomorrow (November 3), isolated three players from group training this season after deciding it no longer wanted them at the club.
A FIFPro survey of 14,000 players due for release later this month will show an alarming amount of players are subjected to the same solitary confinement.
The treatment is more likely for foreign players.
Semir Stilic (Bosnia) and Valdomiro “Estrela” Lameira (Portugal) have left Apoel recently but another player Mateusz Piatkowski (Poland) is still being mistreated.
Piatkowski, pictured above left, played in more than 20 games last season including four Europa League matches.
This season, he has token 45 minute training sessions alone. Typically, he rides an exercise bike in an empty gym or runs around a field on his own.
When he trains on the pitch, staff sometimes leave the sprinklers which spray water over him.
Piatkowski “feels like unwanted rubbish,” his lawyer Marcin Kwiecien said.
He has been prevented from parking his car by the stadium and has to ask for basic items like a towel or kit.
For matches, he is not allowed to sit with his teammates in the stands and instead sits among supporters. Some fans shout “tourist, tourist” at him.
Piatkowski, who has played as a professional footballer in Poland since the age of 18, signed for Apoel last year on a two-year contract.
He did not want to join a smaller team in Cyprus on transfer deadline day because he wanted another chance to play in Apoel’s first team.
Apoel earned more than 3.5 million euros from UEFA Champions League qualifying last season before dropping into the Europa League.
FIFPro, who surveyed players in 54 countries, sees more and more such cases of footballers being isolated over contract disputes.
Earlier this year, the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled Polish club Slask Wroclaw subjected Albanian player Sebino Plaku to “appalling treatment” when he refused to take a pay cut.
Plaku had to change in a locker room with children, hand out club newspapers in a shopping center and wear a tracking device on his Christmas vacation to monitor his training sessions.
The FIFPro survey asked 14,000 players about other issues including pay, medical conditions, match fixing and transfers.
Picture above right: Mateusz Piatkowski in the kit of Jagiellonia Bialystok, his previous club in Poland.
- Published: 02 November 2016