Coronavirus: UAE authorizes football clubs to deduct 40 percent of player wages

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Football clubs in the UAE are now authorized to deduct up to 40 percent of their players’ monthly salaries while the season is on hold due to coronavirus, according to an announcement by the UAE Football Association reported by state news agency WAM.

Football in the UAE, like most sports across the world, has been suspended due to restrictions on mass gatherings and human contact aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. The decision to allow clubs to deduct player’s wages comes almost a month after the UAE Football Association postponed all football, including the UAE Pro League, national team, and women’s football, on March 15.

According to the announcement by UAE Football Association Secretary-General Mohamed Abdullah Hazzam al-Dhaheri, clubs are allowed to deduct a maximum of 40 percent of the salaries of both players and coaches, but only if their salaries are more than 15,000 UAE dirhams ($4,083) a month.

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The cap goes down to 10,000 UAE dirhams for clubs from the UAE First Division League, the second tier of Emirati football after the UAE Pro League – also known as the Arabian Gulf League.

The association also announced it was extending players’ contracted beyond the end of June, in line with FIFA recommendations, and delaying transfer deals to be completed this summer until whenever the next season starts. These measures are aimed at allowing clubs to complete the current league once restrictions are eventually lifted. At the time of postponement, Dubai-based Shabab al-Ahli Club FC were top of the league with 43 points, followed by Al Ain with 37. Fujairah were bottom with 12 points.

The decisions were made after a virtual meeting held by the association’s board, chaired by Sheikh Rashid bin Humaid al-Nuaimi. A follow-up meeting is scheduled for Monday.

The virtual meeting of the UAE FA, chaired by Sheikh Rashid bin Humaid al-Nuaimi. (WAM)
The virtual meeting of the UAE FA, chaired by Sheikh Rashid bin Humaid al-Nuaimi. (WAM)

Footballers’ wages have been the subject of public debate in other countries such as the UK and Spain, with critics suggesting highly paid stars should not be receiving wages while other workers lose their jobs as coronavirus brings economies grinding to a halt. Having been criticized for inaction, several UK Premier League clubs have since established fundraising schemes aimed at supporting the fight against coronavirus.

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