This article is written by Amulya Bhatia, currently pursuing BBA. LL.B from Symbiosis Law School, NOIDA. This article discusses the intricate details of Neymar’s contract with PSG while analyzing the concept of morality clauses.
it has been published by Rachit Garg.
Table of Contents
A club pays to a player an amount for the latter to provide their services; this is the fundamental definition of a sports contract. The sports industry is expanding as quickly as lightning because of its high employment rate as well as the scope of enormous earnings. The only way the sports industry shall be able to stand at par with its expectations in terms of flourishment and excellence is if the players involved are of sterling quality. This is where the concept of contracts in sports comes into play. Contracts serve to be a medium to ensure that players behave in a manner so as to uphold both the spirit as well as the caliber of the game, while also receiving the remuneration and returns well deserved.
One of the most successful players in the football industry, Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior, has been in the limelight because of the whopping sum he is earning through the extension of his collaboration with Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) Football Club (F.C). Furthermore, this contract has also been widely discussed due to the insertion of certain ethical clauses. This article will analyze the extended contract between Neymar and PSG, taking into consideration the validity of the ethical clauses in the given contract.
Neymar’s contract with PSG in 2017
Followed by weeks of negotiations, contractual amendments, and brainstorming, Neymar da Silva Santos Junior, the 29-year-old big shot football player finally transferred to Paris from Barcelona. However, Neymar only became a media sensation and further made headlines for the first time when the details of his contract signed on August 3, 2017, with PSG were revealed, also disclosing the whopping sum of transfer fees taken by the Brazilian footballer. Neymar transferred to this fast-growing French club from FC Barcelona under conditions that are easy to blow one’s mind. The transfer fee alone charged by Neymar to move to PSG was a sprawling £419 million. Additionally, the player shall also earn £37 million every year for the first five years, and under circumstances that the player chooses to renew the contract for another year that would extend his stay till June 30, 2023, his salary shall also increase by £6 million, making the total of his salary £43 million. It is pertinent to note that the initial transfer fee was £198 million, however, the club paid much more to bring this thriving Brazilian player to Paris. This easily makes PSG one of the highest-paying football clubs in history and also with the most exorbitant overall squad wages.
Neymar’s contract with PSG in 2021
If you thought that conditions under Neymar’s contract with PSG in 2017 were mind-boggling, the clauses under his extended contract till 2025 will probably keep you awake at night. The footballer may have expressed his desire to leave the club in 2019, yet he took the club to the Champion’s League, now extending his contract for another four years. Neymar has definitely been an asset to PSG by scoring 85 goals in 112 appearances and also winning multiple accolades and trophies including the three prestigious league titles. For his services, he is being paid a whopping sum of money as revealed in his current and previous contract, without even factoring in his transfer fee from Barcelona.
We haven’t reached the absurd part. Paying an individual for their exemplary services, no matter how huge the amount may be is more than normal in any valid contract. But there are certain clauses in his contract with PSG which require special attention due to their bizarre nature.
The most bizarre clauses in the contract
While clauses to monitor a player’s behaviour both, on and off the field are ordinary in the football industry, the following clauses will certainly make one jaw drop :
Under the sham of an ethics clause, Neymar received almost half a million euros every single month just for being “courteous, punctual, friendly and available to fans“. No wonder he is one of the highest-paid footballers in the world if he is getting a bonus on top of his regular salary for being nice to people before and after matches.
As per another clause of the contract, the player is not within his right to take to Twitter to criticize his club, another player from his team, or any other relevant part. To quote the contract verbatim, the play may not make “negative public comments about the club, those who work there and those who support it.”
The third clause is a contingent one. Neymar in his football career has twice mounted the podium for the Ballon d’Or. PSG has offered this football star a massive sum of €5m under the condition to repeat this achievement. This only goes to show how much power Neymar holds at PSG.
The interconnection of law and morality or ethics has been a controversial topic in the legal sphere and has been under discussion for decades. Law and morality are both two systems that govern the manner in which humans function in the world. While the law is concerned with set rules and regulations or guidelines that mandatorily impose restrictions on how an individual behaves in society, morality on the other hand only suggests human conduct that is beneficial for the entirety of the society, however, it cannot be legally enforced. There may be certain instances where law and morality are bound to work together.
One such example is the morality clause inserted in several contracts with the idea that the behaviour of one party involved in the contract should not have a bearing on the reputation of another. A morality clause is a provision that allows one of the contracting parties to terminate an agreement or take necessary action in case the other party conducts themselves in a manner that poses a threat to the image of the other contracting parties.
With the emergence of concepts like social responsibility and the rampant increase in media trials, how one behaves in public has become a common concern. For example, Gareth Roberts, a British television screenwriter was no longer featured in Ebury’s Doctor Who because of a transphobic tweet made by the screenwriter. This only goes to show that we are living in an era of accountability which makes it even more important to insert morality clauses so as to protect one’s image. However, the question is, who exactly defines the ambit under which a morality clause becomes legal, if they are legal at all.
Behavioural clauses in football
Behavioural clauses, basically clauses that define how one must conduct themselves are more common in the sports industry than one could imagine. It is a fundamental understanding that when a club or organisation invites a skilled player to be a part of the said club as per a contractual agreement, and such player accepts the offer, they take upon themselves the responsibility to behave well, both on and off the field. It is rudimentary knowledge in the sports industry that it is only through public respect and approval associated with the club and the players part of the club that the game remains successful. In the context of football, knowing that the success of the game and any particular club entirely depends on the support of the audience, player behaviour needs to be managed off the field as well, making behavioural clauses an integral part of the sports industry. From Mario Balotelli’s good conduct clause to Lionel Messi’s clause to “integrate into Catalan society and culture” are only some examples of behavioural clauses. Such clauses in the football industry are becoming as common as eating three meals a day but it boils down to the simple question of whether they are legally valid or even effective.
Legality of a morality clause
It is to be noted that while morality clauses may seem like a bizarre concept, they are fairly common in certain professions or employment agreements. One example of that would be under contracts with professional athletes whereby the athletes are expected to behave a certain way with let’s say fans, as can be seen in Neymar’s contract with PSG. Another example of morality clauses is in divorce contracts which are meant to take into consideration the best interest of the child. For example, the most common example would be the prohibition on divorced parents to have unmarried partners with the child. The most disputed case of this would be when a Court in Texas made a man choose between his children and his partner as same-sex marriage is not permitted, and such a clause forbids her from letting her children and partner live under the same roof.
Every business organisation has a set code of ethics that is just another form of imposition of morality clauses where the employees are required to sign a document confirming that they have read the code of ethics. In order to maintain certain decorum within society, a certain extent to which ethics may be imposed by way of morality clauses in legal contracts seems justified for the smooth functioning of businesses, organisations, or even something as common as families.
Criticism of morality clauses
We may have established that there is a need in the status quo for morality clauses, but there exist major fallacies in terms of the implementation of such clauses. It is pertinent to note that from Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECPHRFF), the American Convention on Human Rights (ACHR), and many more, it is a well-established principle that all citizens have the fundamental right to freedom of opinion and expression. This would include the right to have opinions without any kind of interference from any source. Now morality clauses may be integral to maintaining a good image of the society, but are they important enough to compromise on the law of the land?
Neymar’s extended contract clearly states that the player is not allowed to criticize his management and take it to Twitter, which is a clear violation of his right to speech. Considering that a morality clause is ultra vires to the law that prevails in the world, this contract technically should not construe as a valid contract in the first place. However, that is not the case since both parties have consented to the same. Another criticism of a morality clause is based on the idea that morality is a subjective concept, which is also the reason for its separation from the law. Questions like what is moral in the world and who sets these moral high grounds haven’t been answered since time immemorial.
It is only safe to decipher that morality clauses are a tricky path to tread and it is important for all parties involved to understand the nuances of such a contract and also set a limit on the extent to which such clauses would be deemed valid.
Morality clauses are actually a moral dilemma in today’s time and age. We need legal implications to do the bare minimum in life in the context of being nice to those around us. I understood through Neymar’s contract for PSG, that it is only normal for the star to be nice to the fans who have made him who he is today, not to invalidate the footballer’s efforts. Yet we need a legal contractual obligation to fulfill this. Furthermore, as far as criticizing the management is concerned, criticism shouldn’t be a problem at all if done in a dignified manner.
There being a legal mandate to not say anything negative about the management is only proof of how we as a race have become incapable of dialogue, debate, and expressing disagreements. Now, coming to the third questionable clause, while incentives are not just normal, but required, shouldn’t the mammoth-sized salary be reason enough for Neymar to work to the best of his abilities and achieve more for himself, and for the success of the club. This extra incentive is a sign of greed and the threading of our society into a materialistic one where all that matters is money. If the entire idea behind incorporating morality and ethical clauses was to create a better society, these clauses wouldn’t be the exact opposite of the ideals of the world we live in.
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