FIFPro, the soccer players’ union representing more than 65,000 professionals worldwide, has finally cottoned on to the fact that it’s not a great idea to recommend the Serbian league as a potential destination. Of the 16 teams in the SuperLiga, eight have had their accounts blocked by the National Bank of Serbia — meaning they can’t pay their players or other employees.
Unfortunately, this situation is not new in Serbia. Although Red Star Belgrade finished top of the league last year, UEFA barred them from entering this season’s Champions League due to unpaid debts, including wages to players. In fact, six months ago FIFPro knew that Red Star had failed to pay its players for six months, and that most other teams were unable to pay up as well.
The players’ union also warns against the often-hostile atmosphere players are likely to encounter from supporters, some of which will insult, threaten or even attempt to attack players. But FIFPro makes no mention of the strange generosity of Red Star fans, who, upon hearing that the club could not even afford shampoo for the showers, smashed the windows of players’ cars in order to leave bottles of the stuff inside.