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Soccer players' union files criminal complaint against Slovenian champion club for alleged bullying

Fri, Feb 16, 2024
Soccer News (AP)

Soccer players' union files criminal complaint against Slovenian champion club for alleged bullying

LJUBLJANA, Slovenia (AP) - The soccer players' union in Slovenia filed a criminal complaint against national champion Olimpija Ljubljana for alleged bullying of players over their contracts.

The global players' union FIFPRO said Friday it "strongly supports" its Slovenian affiliate and "condemns any unlawful behavior by football clubs aimed at forcing players to terminate or change contract terms."

"Slovenian labor law protects workers by providing legislation against discrimination, termination of contracts for unfounded reasons and workplace bullying," FIFPRO said in a statement.

The union in Slovenia claims players Pascal Estrada, Marko Mijailovic, top scorer Rui Pedro and Mustafa Nukic were "bullied, harassed and humiliated" by their club, which won the domestic league and cup double last season.

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"They were banned from training with the first team to either force them to agree to a contract extension (Estrada, Rui Pedro) or with terminating their contract (Mijailovic, Nukic)," FIFPRO said.

The players did not travel with Olimpija to an 11-day training camp in Turkey last month and only Nukic is still with the club. Olimpija published statements that Mijailovic had his contract terminated, and Estrada and 12-goal Rui Pedro joined clubs in Austria and Turkey, respectively.

"After several reminders to the club were unsuccessful," FIFPRO said, referring to national labor law and soccer federation rules, "the Slovenian player union felt it had to resort to the harshest measure available"

Olimpija did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

Olimpija is second in the Slovenian league, trailing leader Celje by 12 points. It played in a Europa Conference League group and was eliminated in December by finishing third.

The club has been owned since 2021 by German businessman Adam Delius who took over from Milan Mandaric, the former owner of English clubs Leicester and Portsmouth.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin was once a board member at Olimpija, before his election in 2011 as president of the Slovenian soccer federation. He was elected by UEFA members in 2016.

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AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer

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