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Player and employment contract

If a player’s contract is considered to be an employment contract, several legal provisions become applicable even if nothing was agreed on them in the player contract.

A player contract is not always an employment contract. At Veikkausliiga level, for example, the player contracts of many players are employment contracts, but at the corresponding women’s level, many contracts are not correspondingly employment contracts.

A player contract is an employment contract, and it has the characteristics referred to in the Employment Contracts Act. It does not matter what the parties have agreed on the nature of the contract. Therefore, a provision in a player contract stating that “this contract is not an employment contract” is null and void if the player contract satisfies the characteristics of an employment contract.

A player contract is an employment contract if the following characteristics are satisfied:

  1. The player has undertaken to work for the club in person. Playing football is work pursuant to the Employment Contracts Act, and working in person is unavoidable in sports.
  2. The player has agreed to the club having the opportunity to issue instructions relating to the work and the club can supervise the player’s work. Compliance with work-related instructions is specifically based on the contract or position. In principle, a club can order a forward to play as a defender or for a feeder team if this has been separately agreed upon.
  3. The player is paid wages or other consideration for the work. All of the other characteristics are usually satisfied in a footballer’s profession, but the characteristics of working for consideration can be open to interpretation. If the player only receives expense allowances which are real and usually their amounts comply with the guidelines issued by the Tax Administration, the player is not given consideration. However, the allowances must correspond to actual expenses, and expenses cannot be paid based on the final score of a match, for example. The consideration needs not be money, it can also be different kinds of benefits with monetary value, such as company car, housing benefit, meal benefit or, say, company phone.

The Employment Contracts Act is not applied to ordinary leisure activities in which it is up to the player to decide when to come to practices or matches and has no contractual obligations regarding it and is not obligated to follow anyone’s orders or paid money or other consideration for taking part in the activity.

If a player’s contract is considered to be an employment contract, several legal provisions become applicable even if nothing was agreed on them in the player contract. If the contract is not an employment contract, only the provisions written in the contract are primarily applicable. A player contract that is an employment contract by nature is subject to, for example, the Employment Contracts Act provisions on termination and cancellation, layoff, payment of salary and its amount, the Pay Security Act, Annual Holidays Act, Unemployment Security Act, etc.

In the Football Association of Finland’s rules and regulations, athletes are divided into professionals, amateurs and semi-amateurs. However, this classification is insignificant when assessing the type and nature of a player contract.

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