A player is entitled to cancel an employment contract if the employer breaches or neglects the employer’s obligations emerging from the employment contract or law which have material effects on the employment relationship.
The Employment Contracts Act is only applied to player contracts which are employment contracts. The concept of an employment contract is described on the previous page. If the contract is not an employment contract, in practice, only the provisions agreed upon in the contract are applied to the termination and cancellation of the contract.
Contractual principles and rules on the validity of the contract may become applicable under the Contracts Act. The following only applies to player contracts which are employment contracts by nature.
The termination and cancellation of a contract are legally different concepts. Cancellation is primarily based on a party’s material breach of agreement, while termination does not necessarily even require any grounds. However, when the employer terminates the contract, the Employment Contracts Act also stipulates grounds for termination.
In sports, and in football in particular, player contracts are almost always fixed-term, meaning that they commence on the agreed date and expire on the agreed date. The club or the player cannot terminate a fixed-term player contract in the middle of the contract period unless the right to terminate the fixed-term contract has specifically been agreed upon in the player contract. This is rarely the case, even if it would often be necessary.
The above-mentioned rule also applies to players. In practice, a fixed-term contract can be terminated before the agreed fixed date only by agreeing on the termination with the club, or there must be grounds for cancellation mentioned in the Employment Contracts Act.
If the club enters bankruptcy, the player contract expires 14 days after the entry into bankruptcy regardless of the contract being fixed-term.
The club can terminate a fixed-term employment contract only for a particularly weighty reason. Such a reason could be such a serious breach or neglect of the obligations arising from the employee’s employment contract or law with material effects on the employment relationship that the club cannot be reasonably expected to continue the contractual relationship.
A player is entitled to cancel an employment contract if the employer breaches or neglects the employer’s obligations emerging from the employment contract or law which have material effects on the employment relationship in such a serious way that the employee cannot be reasonably expected to continue the contractual relationship. In legal practice, it has been considered that neglecting the payment of two overdue salaries constitutes grounds for cancellation. However, the cancellation must be made before said salaries are paid. As a general rule, the cancellation must be made within 14 days of observing the grounds. It is essential to note that the other party must be given an opportunity to be heard regarding the reasons for the cancellation before cancelling the contract. The request for a hearing should be made by e-mail or in another verifiable manner, and at least 24 hours should be reserved for the hearing. After the hearing request, the other party must be sent a separate notice of termination.
In football, it is important to know that the Football Association of Finland grants the player’s rights and licence to the new club after the cancellation so that exercise of profession can continue. Because of this, both legal provisions and the rules and regulations of the Football Association of Finland must be taken into account in cancellation cases. If the club has terminated an employment contract illegally, the club must pay damages for the unfounded termination of the employment contract. If an employee has cancelled the employment contract due to a reason caused by the employer’s intentional or negligent behaviour (such as unpaid wages and other neglect), the club must compensate the player for the damage. As a rule, the compensation equals a minimum of 3 and a maximum of 24 months’ pay. In practice, the wages are often determined until the end of the contract period in fixed-term contracts.
In estimating the amount of the compensation, it is possible to take into account the fact that the employee has concluded a new employment contract and received pay under it, which can decrease the compensation to be paid. The compensation can be less than 3 months if the club has cancelled the contract without intention or gross neglect. This, however, is rare.
If the player cancels the contract illegally, the player must compensate the club for the damage. The amount of the damage can even be considerable, if the club has paid, for example, agent fees or similar fees for the player.
OPS declared suddenly that they will cancel my valid player contract. In addition, the club had failed to pay the wages agreed in my player contract. The reason for the cancellation remained unclear, but OPS had declared that I did not pass the try-out. When I contacted the Players Union, I received help immediately and my case has been handled professionally by the union’s legal counsel. - Vinius Fransson