Levante doles out fines, instead of pay to players
Football club responds to players’ strike by fining player Riga Mustapha for offensive gesture.15 May 2008
VALENCIA / MADRID - Levante's football team has called a strike to begin ahead of Sunday's season-ending game at Real Madrid in protest at the almost EUR 13 million they are owed from the club.
After plenty of threats, the players have finally united in action. But the club, exercising what could be the final trick up its sleeve, or perhaps a perverse plan to begin to offset its debts, has responded by fining one of its players.
Riga Mustapha, Levante's top goal scorer, was notified on Tuesday, after the strike was called, that disciplinary action will be taken for the bicep-grabbing "up yours" gesture he showed fans while leaving the field on Sunday. Mustapha was substituted in the final minutes of Levante's 5-1 thrashing by Valencia. The club also owes the player EUR 1 million.
This is not the first time Levante has punished the forward, nor is it new that fans have shown disapproval at the striker's perceived lack of professionalism. In April, with fans already riding him for some off-colour comments, Mustapha refused to play when his club travelled to Betis. He was subsequently fined EUR 3,000.
Last Sunday when the last-placed club, which has been bogged down by months of financial wrangling, was embarrassed in the region's derby, restraint on the part of the peeved Mustapha was out of the question.
The size of the fine has yet to be determined. Ironically, it is the board of directors who will administer the penalty; the same board which is responsible for the fact that the players have only seen 20 percent of their salaries over the past two years. With the club - EUR 60 million in debt, every bit help.
[El Pais / N. T. / K. R. / Flickr contributor chantrybee / Expatica]
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