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Originally published Thursday, April 19, 2012 at 6:19 AM

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Soccer leaders OK minimum contract provisions

Soccer officials across Europe signed a deal Thursday for minimum standards in player contracts that protect professional players in lesser leagues and minor clubs.

The Associated Press

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BRUSSELS —

Soccer officials across Europe signed a deal Thursday for minimum standards in player contracts that protect professional players in lesser leagues and minor clubs.

The FIFPro global union representing professional soccer players agreed with UEFA, leagues and clubs on specific rules on commercial rights and medical issues that should become standard under the new rules.

UEFA President Michel Platini signed the agreement that will affect clubs in the 53 European federations.

"It is a pleasure to have the European football family united around the same table, speaking with a united voice," UEFA President Michel Platini said.

The rules have been under discussion for years. Even if the top stars and the biggest leagues usually offer generous contracts, FIFPro found early this year that in Eastern Europe up to 45 percent of contracts were disregarded or badly respected.

Earlier this year, a wide-ranging FIFPro study showed that clubs from Greece to Russia show a "terrifying lack of respect" for the fundamental rights of professionals.

Beyond not being paid their salary on time, FIFPro also found that almost half of the players in eastern Europe did not get their bonuses on time.

Under the new system, contracts must be in writing and clearly address pay, health insurance, social security and paid leave. Players must commit to minimum standards on training participation, healthy lifestyle and disciplinary procedures.

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