SYDNEY (Reuters) - Asian champions Western Sydney Wanderers left for the Club World Cup in Morocco as scheduled on Sunday night but their pay dispute remains unresolved and the threat of a boycott still hangs over the trip.
Wanderers players are still considering whether to participate in the FIFA tournament because the club have refused to negotiate over what they believe to be a “fair and equitable share” of the prize money.
“The players took the decision that they would get on the plane as a sign of good faith,” a spokesman for the players’ union (PFA) told Reuters on Monday.
“They are hoping that will encourage the club into meaningful negotiations but there is still the option of a boycott.”
The tournament, which also involves Real Madrid, San Lorenzo, Cruz Azul, ES Setif, Auckland City and hosts Mohgreb Tetouan, was not part of the collective bargaining agreement signed by players and club at the start of the season.
The club have offered 10 percent of the minimum of $1 million they will make from the tournament and have “flatly rejected” all counterbids from the players, the PFA spokesman added.
The club later released a statement saying that 10 percent was an appearance fee and not the limit of the bonuses from the tournament, which could rise to A$3 million ($2.49 million) in the unlikely event the club lifted the trophy on Dec. 20.
“The Western Sydney Wanderers maintain that all residual amounts from the CWC will be used for the purposes of enhancing and improving current training and player facilities, as well as junior academy, community, indigenous and women’s programs,” the statement added.
“The club’s obligations extend further than focusing on the today and ignoring the tomorrow in all facets of the club and its responsibility to the Western Sydney region.”
Wanderers qualified for the Club World Cup after winning the Asian Champions League (ACL) last month and the players see revenue derived from it as part of the “winnings” from the ACL, to which they are entitled to 50 percent.
The club statement said the players earned bonuses totaling more than A$950,000 ($789,450) from the ACL.
Wanderers, who are bottom of the domestic A-League with no wins in their first nine matches, are scheduled to play Mexico’s Cruz Azul in Rabat on Saturday with the prize of a semi-final meeting with Real Madrid on the line.
Editing by Peter Rutherford