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Shakhtar and the other Ukrainian teams are still required to pay money owed to teams outside the country, including for players that have been allowed to suspend their contracts.
Palkin described an example of one situation in which the team agreed to sign a player from an Italian team just before the Russian invasion. The player never set foot in Ukraine and was allowed to move elsewhere, leaving Shakthar on the hook for about $9 million. It asked his former team to scrap the deal and to sell him elsewhere, but those talks floundered. Shakhtar has balked at the payment, Palkin said, and the club, which he declined to name, is asking FIFA to punish Shakhtar.
Palkin said efforts to come to an arrangement with FIFA have largely been met with silence. Multiple Ukrainian teams have asked the governing body to suspend their obligations to other clubs until normal operations can be established. He also suggested FIFA, which announced it had made $7.5 billion from the World Cup in Qatar, could also establish “a reparation fund” for Ukrainian teams.
Shakhtar, which is owned by the billionaire Rinat Akhmetov, has the highest payroll among Ukrainian teams. But it is also benefiting from playing in the Champions League, Europe’s top club competition. Its home games are played across the border in Poland and have provided a lucrative — and much needed — financial boost, as well as providing a platform for its domestically reared talent, which, unlike foreign players, are not able to suspend their contracts.
That has allowed Palkin to try and negotiate player sales ahead of the opening of the midseason European player trading window next month. He attended meetings in London recently with English clubs interested in signing forward Mykhailo Mudryk, 21, who is considered to be one of European soccer’s biggest emerging talents.
Palkin said he is conscious of teams looking to take advantage of his team’s situation and is unwilling to be forced to sell for a below-market price despite the ongoing hardship. That means Mudryk could remain with Shakhtar until next summer’s off-season, a time when the biggest trades are typically made. “It’s quite a long negotiation process,” he said.
The Ukrainian league is currently on break for the winter and is scheduled to restart in March. By then, there should be a resolution in Shakhtar’s case against FIFA.
“We want to sit together with all the stakeholders and work out a plan,” Palkin said. “And we want fairness and justice.”