Anti-rival and anti-player

In the opinion article by João Caiado Guerreiro in the newspaper A Bola: "These anti-rival clauses, although unconstitutional and illegal, even at the sports level, continue to exist".
News 03/07/2023

Tiago Santos, 20, an Estoril player, has had a tremendous season and has aroused the interest of SL. Benfica. The player is assumed to be ok playing again in one of the three big Portuguese clubs. Still, as he trained in Sporting, it will be difficult: the Lions have the right of preference and, at the time of transfer to the Canarinhos, included an anti-rivals clause that prevents him from transferring to Benfica or FC Porto without the payment of a certain amount. It is a usual situation, but is it legitimate?

Martim Neto has 20 years, was a year to renew with Benfica – ABOLA report that the player and club are about to reach an agreement – and during this time, several newspapers reported that Sporting was one of the interested parties. However, this youngster also has an anti-rival clause inscribed in his contract, and to move to Alvalade, the club would have to pay 510 thousand euros, it was reported. Again, legitimate?

Imagine the reader that his work contract ended and he wants to move to another company in the same sector. You can’t, even if there is no termination clause because your company forbade you to move to a competitor; it was in your contract. Illegal, abusive and impossible, right? Even by limiting your freedom to work wherever you want. In Portuguese employment law, no one would doubt the invalidity of this clause, which would only be valid for a limited period – a maximum of 3 years – and if you continued to be adequately remunerated.

However, anti-rival clauses are in fashion! How and why is what we will see. To begin with, the Sports Labour Contract Law provides, in its article 19, precisely that “clauses inserted in a sports labour contract aiming at conditioning or limiting the sportsman’s freedom to work after the end of his contractual link are null and void.” The same says the Collective Labour Agreement between Liga Portugal and the Players’ Union.

Although unconstitutional and illegal, these clauses continue to exist, even on a sports level, as we can see from the cases described. And nobody has forgotten the João Mário case, have they? This matter has nothing to do with the rescission clause, whose lack of proportionality between the salary and the value of the same will also make for a great conversation! This is because the rescission clause is valid while the contract is in force. When it ends, the player is free. He can go wherever he wants without paying anyone.

This problem exists because the players affected are usually very young and poorly supported. And also because the clubs have a lot of power and know they will hardly be punished for putting an illegal clause in the contract. The idea is that the player signed and will have to comply. It is the argument of the powerful. For every Ronaldo or Messi who can impose the conditions they want, thousands of sports workers suffer under these rules.

So for all the players, their freedom of choice, their work, and those who carefully fulfil contracts and therefore have the right to choose what they want to do with their future, the “Direito ao Golo” is yours.

Article by João Caiado Guerreiro in A Bola newspaper.


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  • Labour
  • Sports Law