Shakhtar Donetsk CEO claims greedy football agents are ‘destroying’ the club by exploiting the war in Ukraine to ‘steal’ players away to foreign clubs while they try to restart their domestic league in August
- Sergei Palkin has criticised the conduct of agents during the Ukraine war
- The Shakhtar Donetsk chief said they had been ‘manipulating’ the situation
- Palkin also slammed FIFA for rules allowing foreign players to suspend their deal
- He accused some top clubs of paying lip-service to wanting to support Ukraine
Shakhtar Donetsk chief executive Sergei Palkin has slammed agents who he claims are exploiting the war in Ukraine for their own benefit by ‘stealing’ players and asking for fees to be paid directly to them rather than the club itself.
In an interview with The Athletic, Palkin said ‘some agents are destroying us’ and also hit out at FIFA for allowing foreign players in Ukraine and Russia to suspend their contracts until June 2023, enabling them to feature for other sides.
Ukrainian football has been plunged into crisis following the full-scale invasion of the country by Russia in February.
The country’s top league was initially suspended and then terminated on April 27 due to the ongoing war and no new dates have been set for the new season.
Shakhtar Donetsk chief executive Sergei Palkin has slammed agents for their conduct during the war
Football in Ukraine has been deeply affected by the full-scale Russian invasion of the country
Palkin told The Athletic that the war ‘has shown a lot of problems in the football world.
‘Everybody is trying to use this situation,’ he said. ‘Who is trying the most? Agents.
‘Some agents are destroying us. They are trying to steal players. They play games, contacting clubs, saying don’t pay us (Shakhtar) and deals are being broken. You cannot imagine what is going on.
Palkin is concerned some agents are trying to ‘steal’ Shakhtar’s foreign players in the window
‘Agents are arriving to clubs and saying, ‘Don’t pay Shakhtar, the players will become free, just pay me (the agent) €10m and forget about the club.
‘Some agents anticipated that FIFA will issue some declaration to see that all foreign players in Ukraine are free (agents). It is not possible. They are trying to manipulate the situation.’
FIFA this week extended its temporary regulations on foreign players in Ukraine and Russia, which it claims are in place to protect them.
‘Should clubs affiliated to the Ukrainian Association of Football (UAF) or the Football Union of Russia (FUR) not reach a mutual agreement with their respective foreign players and coaches before or on 30 June 2022, and unless otherwise agreed in writing, these players and coaches will have the right to suspend their employment contracts with their clubs until 30 June 2023,’ FIFA said in a statement.
The Shakhtar CEO criticised a recent decision from FIFA on foreign players in Ukraine
But Palkin believes the move makes the situation worse for Ukrainian clubs as it effectively means they have around a week to try and cash in on players they may have hoped to receive significant fees for in the summer.
‘The power to decide on suspension of the contracts is now in the hands of players’ agents,’ he said. ‘It doesn’t reflect the club’s intention to save players and investments.
‘And we now basically have nine days to agree with our players their sale or loan to foreign clubs, which is just impossible. FIFA have not helped Ukrainian clubs by issuing regulations. On the contrary, it significantly worsened our negotiations with players and made agents even more powerful and richer.’
Palkin also accused some clubs who have vowed to support Ukraine following the Russian invasion of empty promises and of merely paying lip-service to the effort.
He recalled one team with ‘big money’ who had been due to face Shakhtar in a £258,000 friendly but, for understandable reasons, they could not organise it.
The future of football in Ukraine remains uncertain as a result of the ongoing war
Palkin says Shakhtar told the club to instead donate the money to Ukrainian refugees. ‘They have not paid it,’ he said. ‘There are people who go around saying “I support Ukraine”, but then finally you say “OK, show us that you support Ukraine”, and they don’t want to support.
‘Here’s another case. There is a player we tried to buy. We wanted to do it in instalments and we issued guarantees, because at the moment it is difficult but we said we will pay everything in a year’s time.
‘This club then provided to me a list of requirements so long that I looked at this list and just thought, “Honestly, forget it”. This was since the invasion.
‘Therefore, when people are trying to get hype for their work supporting Ukraine, I don’t pay very much attention.’
Russia invaded Ukraine in February, which has left football as an afterthought in the nation