Dec 17 (Reuters) - World players' union FIFPro has demanded a radical overhaul of soccer's transfer system and is ready to take legal measures to get its way.
"The transfer system fails 99 percent of players around the world, it fails football as an industry and it fails the world's most beloved game," FIFPro president Phillipe Piat said in a statement on Tuesday.
"Football's governing bodies, clubs and leagues claim the transfer system is necessary to ensure competitive balance, whereby in fact it creates a spiral of economic and sporting imbalance which only benefits the richest one percent of clubs and player agents.
"Football players are workers and only when they are able to enjoy the rights enshrined in law and enjoyed by all other workers will FIFPro be satisfied," added the Frenchman.
"FIFPro will not stand by and watch from the sidelines as players' rights around the world are systemically disrespected and the football industry dismantles itself."
The union said it would take its recommendations and complaints to the European Commission, the European Court of Justice and human rights courts if necessary.
FIFPro complained that transfer regulations impeded the freedom to move clubs for footballers.
"Exorbitant compensation for breaches of contract is imposed on players, unimaginable in any other industry," said the union before adding that footballers also faced the threat of sporting sanctions.
Bobby Barnes, the head of FIFPro's Europe division, said: "Despite enjoying record amounts of revenue, football's regulatory and economic system fails miserably on numerous fronts and drives the professional game towards self-destruction.
"Thousands of players worldwide are not paid on time, or not at all, while 28 percent of the global transfer market (an estimated $750 million annually) is paid to agents and lost to the game. Something is not right with this picture.
"Unpaid players are vulnerable targets of crime syndicates who instigate match-fixing and threaten the very existence of credible football competitions," said Barnes.
"The current industrial model of football in general fails to ensure a professional management and compliance culture that is capable of safeguarding our game against internal and external abuse.
"In contrast, in the absence of competitive balance, it encourages speculative, unsustainable, immoral and illegal investment models like third party ownership of players," added Barnes.
General secretary Theo van Seggelen said FIFPro would not break off its relationship with world soccer's ruling body FIFA and European soccer's governing organisation UEFA.
"We will remain at that table," he said. "We are firmly committed to dialogue provided that all stakeholders possess an honest will to critically question the status quo and a will to implement fundamental changes now.
"But FIFPro will not be limited in its means to bring about change." (Reporting by Brian Homewood; editing by Tony Jimenez)