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Some 300 unpaid footballers in Romania will be free to leave 14 clubs in financial administration next month after the national player's union successfully campaigned to change legislation.

Lawmakers voted 152-3 to amend an insolvency law that treated players as assets and allowed clubs in administration to retain them because of their transfer market value.

Bucharest-based union AFAN has been campaigning for more than two years to change the legislation by lobbying politicians and highlighting the case of trapped footballers such as Rafael Kneif

The 23-year-old Brazilian defender, who is contracted to FC Ceahlaul until May, was stopped from joining clubs in England and Italy during the January transfer window because of the law.

The other clubs in admnistration include Rapid Bucharest and CFR Cluj, which played respectively in the UEFA Europa League or Champions League as recently as 2012.

When the parliament’s amendment is published in Romania’s official government bulletin next month (April) footballers who have not been paid for three months can start proceedings to break their contracts lawfully.

 “This is a huge victory for us and the players,” AFAN president Emilian Hulubei (pictured) said. “Some of our members have not been paid for a year or more.

“Clubs have been using the insolvency law as a tool so they don’t have to pay players. They were very well protected by the law for many years.”

Fourteen teams in Romania top two divisions are in administration. The amendment of the legislation will also benefit athletes in other sports such as handball.

AFAN received no support in its campaign from the Romanian football federation or league because, Hulubei said, it was not in the interest of clubs to change the legislation.

“We won this victory on our own,” Hulubei said. “It is the first time we have been able to change a financial law in Romania in 20 years of trying.”

 

 

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