The Peruvian players’ union has come up with some constructive suggestions to improve the state of the game.

By Brian Homewood
Peruvian players have threatened they will boycott the national team unless sweeping and deep-rooted changes are made to the way football is run in their country.

The Peruvian Players Union have sent a document to the federation (FPF) setting out what it sees as the reforms which are needed to end the seemingly interminable decline.

Interestingly, the document is detailed, to-the-point and constructive – a refreshing change from the attitude of the directors, whose only response in the face of bad results is to sack the coach and maybe punish the players for alleged “indiscipline.” Divided into six sections, the report deals with the first division, second division, amateur football, youth divisions, the FPF itself and the discredited disciplinary system.

In the case of the first division, the union complains that no minimum standards are required for the first division clubs, working conditions for players are appalling, contracts are not respected and that clubs fail to pay social security contributions for the players.

Just an example of what this means, many clubs list in a state of virtual reality with no headquarters, no stadium and, in many cases, no training facilities.

The lack of training facilities forces the coaching staff to waste much of their time looking for somewhere to practice often at the last moment.

Even champions Deportivo San Martin, regarded as one of the better-run outfits, do not have a regular stadium.

Meanwhile clubs fold, merge, move and re-form with bewildering frequency. One of the most recent examples concerns the Arequipa-based team Total Clean, who won promotion last year but then merged with Callao-based second division side Atletico Chalaco. The new club was named Total Chalaco but it was Callao, not Arequipa, which got the first division team.

“There is no protection for the coaches and their staff against tempestuous sackings by the directors, even though they are not allowed to coach another club in the same season,” adds the union’s report.

“Competitive matches are scheduled at times of extreme heat on artificial pitches without taking into account the health of the players.”

As for the second division, the union argues that players should be considered professionals under FIFA guidelines but are in fact treated as amateurs with clubs running roughshod over labour legislation.

One of the union’s biggest bugbears is the Copa Peru, a huge FA-Cup style nationwide tournament involving more than 100 teams which rewards the winners with a place in the first division.

“The system mixes professional players with amateurs. It’s so absurd that it allows a club which is founded in January to take part in the first division the following year,” says the union.

On youth development, it said there was no control over youth team coaches, no competitive youth football outside Lima and no football schools to develop top-level players. “There are no centres for the development of top level youngsters. There is no system for appointing, controlling or certifying youth team coaches.”

The union’s initiative was given a generally positive response. “We’re not turning our backs on Peru,” said midfielder Roberto Palacios. “On the contrary, we’re doing this so that the national team improves and to change the image. We’re trying to look for solutions.”

Universitario coach Juan Reynoso said: “The union’s stance is a good way out. This is not about getting rid of (FPF president) Manuel Burga, it’s about improving the administration of the game and giving Peruvian football a better future.”

“There will be casualties but, hopefully, there will be a turning point and we can qualify for a World Cup.”

Shortly after the union’s announcement, the FPF gave another example of their bumbling approach. Following the 1-0 defeat away to Colombia in a World Cup qualifier (Peru’s eighth successive loss), the delegation left striker Hernan Rengifo behind in the team hotel in Medellin. The directors only noticed his absence when their plane touched down in Lima. And they had his passport for “safe keeping.”