Shakhtar and other Ukrainian teams still have to pay money owed to teams outside the country, including players who were allowed to suspend their contracts.
Balkin described an example of a situation where a team agreed to sign a player from an Italian team shortly before the Russian invasion. The player never set foot in Ukraine and was allowed to move elsewhere, giving Shakhtar about $9 million for a player who never set foot in Ukraine. It asked his former team to abandon the contract and sell him elsewhere, but those talks ended in failure. Shakhtar refuses to pay and the club, which he declined to name, is asking FIFA to punish Shakhtar.
Balkin said efforts to reach an agreement with FIFA have been met with mostly silence. Several Ukrainian teams have asked the governing body to suspend their commitments to other clubs until normal operations are established. He also suggested FIFA establish “a compensation fund” for Ukrainian teams, which it announced earned $7.5 billion from the World Cup in Qatar.
Shakhtar, owned by billionaire Rinat Akhmedov, has the highest paid Ukrainian club. But it benefits from playing in Europe’s top club competition, the Champions League. Its home games are played beyond Poland’s borders and provide a lucrative – and much-needed – financial boost, as well as a platform for home-grown talent, which, unlike foreign players, cannot have their contracts suspended.
This allowed Balkin to try and negotiate a player sale ahead of the opening of the interim European player trade window next month. He recently attended meetings in London with English clubs, who are considering Mikael Mudric, 21, one of the biggest emerging talents in European football.
Falkin said he’s aware of teams looking to take advantage of his team’s situation and doesn’t want to be forced to sell below market value despite ongoing struggles. That means Mudric could stay with Shakhtar until next summer’s off-season, when the biggest trades are usually made. “It’s been a long negotiation process,” he said.
The Ukrainian league is currently on a winter break and is scheduled to resume in March. By then there should be a decision in Shakhtar’s case against FIFA.
“We want to sit down with all the stakeholders and come up with a plan,” Balkin said. “We want fairness and justice.”
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