Sunday, 14 Jul 2024

Footballers Struggling with Unpaid Wages: The Case of Former Nottingham Forest Captain Grabban

nottingham forest player salaries

Footballers around the world put their hearts and souls into the game they love. Unfortunately, some find themselves in situations where they are left chasing their wages. This troubling issue extends its reach even to Saudi Arabian football clubs, as evidenced by the case of Lewis Grabban, former captain of Nottingham Forest.

The Unfortunate Reality

FIFA’s Dispute Resolution Chamber has been inundated with contract breach cases involving Saudi clubs. Over the past year alone, they have dealt with more than 50 labor disputes. One of the most recent cases involved Lewis Grabban and Al Ahli, a club recently taken over by the Public Investment Fund (PIF), Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund.

Grabban joined Al Ahli on a one-year deal in August last year. However, within three months, his contract was terminated, leaving him with unpaid wages and a sense of injustice. He claimed that he never received his signing-on fee of $200,000 and two months’ worth of wages totaling $200,000. When he formally requested payment, he was instead informed of his release two weeks later.

Fighting for What is Right

Facing these injustices, Grabban fought for what he believed he was owed. He argued that he was due a total compensation of £2.2 million. Eventually, Al Ahli was ordered to pay $500,000 in unpaid wages and an additional $700,000 in compensation for the breach of contract. This was the fourth FIFA tribunal involving Al Ahli in just 18 months, leading to a ban on registering new players for two consecutive periods.

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Grabban’s case is not unique; many players have experienced similar issues with Saudi clubs. Some have had their wages withheld while injured, while others have had their contracts terminated and visas withheld. Even high-profile clubs like Al Nassr, where Ronaldo briefly played, have been found in the wrong. In fact, Al Nassr was ordered to pay Brazilian midfielder Petros $2.5 million for refusing to comply with the terms of his terminated contract.

The Larger Problem

The problem of unpaid wages in Saudi football has garnered attention from FIFPRO, the international union representing footballers worldwide. Last summer, FIFPRO warned its members to avoid signing with clubs in Saudi Arabia due to the recurring problem of non-payment of salaries. Saudi Arabia has been listed alongside other nations known for similar issues, such as Algeria, China, Romania, and Turkey.

Unfortunately, public warnings have done little to solve the issue. The true depth of the problem remains unclear, compounded by the absence of a players’ union in Saudi Arabia. Local players have no recourse or representation to address their grievances regarding unpaid wages.

Football should be a game where the players’ talents are rewarded fairly. The struggles faced by players like Grabban highlight the need for improved systems and safeguards to protect their rights. Until then, cases of unpaid wages continue to tarnish the beautiful game.


Q: How many labor disputes involving Saudi clubs did FIFA’s Dispute Resolution Chamber handle in the last year?
A: FIFA’s Dispute Resolution Chamber handled over 50 labor disputes involving Saudi clubs in the past 12 months.

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Q: What action did FIFA take against Al Ahli due to their repeated involvement in FIFA tribunals?
A: FIFA sanctioned Al Ahli with a ban from registering any new players for two entire and consecutive registration periods.

Q: Are unpaid wages a recurring problem in Saudi Arabian football clubs?
A: Yes, unpaid wages have been identified as a recurring problem in Saudi Arabian football clubs, as highlighted by FIFPRO.


The issue of footballers chasing unpaid wages in Saudi Arabian clubs, as seen in the case of Lewis Grabban, sheds light on the need for improved systems to protect player rights. The involvement of FIFA and international unions like FIFPRO underscores the severity of the problem. It is imperative that the football community works collectively to find solutions and ensure that players receive the compensation they deserve. The beautiful game should not be marred by these financial struggles, and it is up to the stakeholders to address this pressing issue.

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