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Could Sports Activity Contracts Be Temporarily Suspended?

Actualizată în: 5 mai 2020

In Romania, the state of emergency was declared by Presidential Decree on March 16, 2020 and it will end on May 15, 2020. By Government Emergency Ordinance no. 32/2020, as a result of the effects of COVID-19, some measures were taken regarding the sports activity carried out on the Romanian territory. During the period of the emergency, the sports structures may call for a temporary suspension of the sports activity contracts as a consequence of the COVID-19 effects and therefore, the athletes, coaches and the auxiliary staff may benefit from 75% of their salaries, but not more than 75% of the average annual gross salary, this representing the equivalent of 500 euros net. In addition, the law stipulates the possibility to be negotiated and established, by mutual agreement between the club, on the one hand and players, coaches and auxiliary staff on the other hand, other compensatory allowances granted by the sports structure, in addition to the state allowance.If the law specifically asks for the "interruption of the economic activity" with regard to the labor contracts, when it comes to the sports activity contracts it only mentions "the suspension of the contracts" by call of the sports structure, due to the COVID-19 effects.

What is the situation of the clubs and players in the Premiere League of Romania, where the monthly salaries of the football players vary between 2,000 and 20,000 euros? Just being published the Emergency Ordinance in the Official Gazette and the clubs hurried to declare their activity suspended, in order to collect the state aid. In parallel, the players were receiving a proposal to have their salaries reduced by 50% for a period of 4-5 months.

First of all, the temporary interruption of the club's activity should not have any effect on the sports activity contracts. The sports activity is an independent activity by means of the law in force, that is being performed by the contractual parties on the ground of a sui generis contract, with mutual rights and obligations for the parties. For a logical reasoning to be true, the premise from which we start must be true. What does the temporary suspension of a sports activity contract mean? It means that both the sports structure and the player execute no more their correlative rights and obligations, based on the same contract, for the period of the two months. Could such a statement be valid? Could we say that the performance athlete can afford the "luxury" of interrupting for two months his individual training, the athlete's diet, the contact even online with the coach, sports doctor and so on? Obviously not. Given the announcement of the resumption of the competition season after the end of June, it is, anyway, almost impossible for the athletes to regain their competitive form in such a short time. On the other hand, the law explicitly mentions that the suspension of sports activity contracts, at the initiative of the club, must be due to the effects of COVID-19. This is an exception to the principle of the binding force of a contract and to the principle mutuus consensus mutuus dissensus and therefore should be of strict interpretation and application. As long as a series of clubs from Premiere League have accumulated debts, some being in a state of bankruptcy and the players register 2-3 months of unpaid salaries, could we say that the financial difficulty of the club within the 2 months, is due to the state of emergency or due to the bad management? Tu resume, this "initiative" of the clubs from the Premiere League of Romanian football to suspend the sports activity contracts is a nonsense in relation to the small amount offered by the state as well as an action without legal basis. Not to mention the bad image the Premier League clubs have created to themselves and the emotional impact such a decision has on players.

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