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A Push to Make Pro Soccer Salaries Public

Posted January. 09, 2008 08:18,   


While salaries of pro baseball and basketball players are made public, those in professional soccer are not. Though each pro soccer league is currently undergoing annual salary negotiation deals with free agents, nobody knows the exact amount of their salaries.

Pro team officials and players say this is because disclosure would dampen morale among players.

“Both baseball and basketball are highly dependent on specific positions like pitchers and centers,” said Chu Yeon-gu, director at FS Cooperation, a sports agency. “Players in both games acknowledge this fact to an extent. But soccer is different. Disclosure of each player’s annual salary would negatively affect teamwork.”

While agreeing to this explanation, Oh Geun-yeong, chief officer of Suwon Samsung, pointed to another reason, saying, “Each league attaches various conditions to the contract. These ‘side contracts’ sometimes go against the rules set by the Korean Football Association, and so they prevent detailed information of the contracts from being made public.”

Kim Dae-gil, commentator at KBSN, echoed Oh’s criticism, saying, “The main reason to keep salaries secret is because of these side contracts. Those dual contracts produce many adverse effects, restricting players when they switch teams. But salaries should be disclosed no matter what.”

Star players such as Lee Chun-soo (Feyenoord) and Ahn Jung-hwan (Suwon Samsung) are reported to have received an annual salary of 1 to 1.2 billion won when they played for Korean pro leagues.

“Even in the Netherlands pro league, few players are paid 1 billion won a year. Korean pro soccer players enjoy much higher salaries,” noted Park Moon-seong, commentator at SBS. “Since the Korea-Japan 2002 World Cup, salaries have risen disproportionately. The earnings of domestic pro leagues are a third of those in Japan, but expenses for players’ salaries are almost the same,” added Oh.

With its very existence in trouble, the domestic pro soccer league is moving to cut players’ salaries. Acknowledging that one of the major factors of high salaries are side contracts coming from competition among pro teams trying to lure star players, insiders are speaking out that annual salaries should be disclosed in order to keep them at reasonable levels.