Almost every player has certainly heard of so-called ‘Kokos’s Clubs’, and many have experienced such practices first-hand. So what are “Kokos’s Clubs” and how can they be effectively prevented?
The scale of the phenomenon of “Klub Kokosa” in Poland, i.e. individual training sessions forced by clubs, not aimed at improving a player’s sporting level, but only at the premeditated exclusion of a footballer from the team’s training process in order to force a specific behaviour, is unfortunately very wide in Poland and at the same time difficult to detect. The philosophy of ‘Klub Kokosa’ is based on a tried and tested solution years ago, which Polonia Warszawa used against Daniel Kokosiński (hence the colloquially adopted name of ‘Klub Kokosa’), involving isolating the player from the team and subjecting him to an individual training programme in order to force a renegotiation of the terms of his contract
The most common motives for directing a player to individual training or to a reserve team (with the assumption that the player will not play in a competition) are as follows precisely to force through contractual decisions that are favourable to the club (early termination of contract, departure to another club, agreement to a reduction in salary), or reaction to a player’s decision to leave the club in the next round on a free transfer basis.
Unfortunately, the biggest issue with this reprehensible practice is that the problem is downplayed and hushed up. The vast majority of cases unfortunately do not come to light, or are revealed after the case has been closed, once the club has achieved its objectives. In many cases footballers also have a harder time defending themselves, as clubs hide behind the decisions of the coaching staff, who are influenced by them, to justify their actions.
So how do you combat an attempted unjustified transfer to the reserve team or other forms of discrimination or relegation from the team?
Firstly, we must remember that one of the basic obligations of a football club as set out in Article 6(4)(c) of Resolution III/54 of the Board of the Polish Football Association of 27 March 2015. – Minimum requirements for standard contracts of players in the professional football sector is to provide conditions for the football player to improve his sporting skills by participating in team training sessions. A different way of improving the athlete’s sporting qualifications can only be dictated by legitimate objective sporting reasons. At the same time, in accordance with ar. 12(2)(e) of the aforementioned Resolution III/54, removal from first-team activities or reassignment of a player to the reserve team for a period of up to three months is indicated as one of the sanctions of a disciplinary nature.
Thus, in the event of a decision by the club to transfer to a reserve team or to place a player on an individual training cycle, the club should immediately request a written justification for such a decision, subject to the possibility of filing a request for termination of the contract through fault of the club. The letter with the relevant demand should be submitted to the club immediately, in order to object to the arbitrary decision of the club from the very beginning and to gather relevant material that may consequently help to terminate the contract through fault of the club.
Jeśli wskutek zdecydowanej reakcji zawodnika klub nie zajmie żadnego stanowiska, względnie przedstawione przez niego argumenty nie będą opierać się na uzasadnionych względach medycznych lub szkoleniowych, zawodnik nie zostaje bez środków ochrony prawnej. W takim wypadku piłkarz może złożyć wniosek do Piłkarskiego Sądu Polubownego Polskiego Związku Piłki Nożnej o rozwiązanie kontraktu z winy klubu, oparty na art. 8 ust. 10 wskazanej wyżej Uchwały III/54 Zarządu Polskiego Związku Piłki Nożnej.
Such a proposal is risky for the Club as, in a situation where the Club would not be able to demonstrate, in court proceedings, legitimate objective reasons for transferring the player to the reserve team or placing him on an individual training cycle, the Football Arbitration Court will be entitled to terminate the football contract due to the fault of the Club and to award compensation to the player in the amount of the remuneration due to him for the period for which the professional football contract was concluded.