Coronavirus: Juventus captain Giorgio Chiellini used business acumen to lead players’ wage cut negotiations

Andrew Dampf
Reuters

Best known for his aggressive defending on the pitch, Giorgio Chiellini is proving to be an effective negotiator in the board room, too.

The Juventus captain – who has a master’s degree in business administration – was the main go-between for millionaire team-mates like Cristiano Ronaldo and management when the squad agreed to forgo €90 million in wages to help the club amid the coronavirus crisis.

The first agreement of its kind in Serie A since play was halted last month set the precedent that other clubs are preparing to follow.

“Chiellini first spoke with [club president Andrea Agnelli], then with us,” Juventus forward Paulo Dybala said.

“We discussed it in a chat and there were different opinions. There were players who were lacking one or two games to reach a bonus, but this was the best thing to do,” added Dybala, one of three Juventus players to test positive for Covid-19.

The deal allows Juventus to avoid paying four months of wages, or a third of players’ salaries, before closing its fiscal calendar-year on 30 June – a saving made even more crucial since Juventus shares are listed on the Milan stock exchange.

Chiellini’s key achievement was that players will reportedly get back about half of their missed salaries after 30 June, or perhaps even more if this season’s Serie A resumes. Juventus declined to comment when asked if wages would be deferred to next season.

Juventus coach Maurizio Sarri was also involved in the deal worked out by Chiellini.

“Juventus would like to thank the players and the coach for their commitment at a difficult time for everyone,” Juventus said in a statement announcing the deal over the weekend.

While Chiellini is Juventus’ player representative for the Italian soccer players’ association (AIC), the deal with the eight-time defending Serie A champion came before the AIC could work out a unilateral league-wide agreement over reducing salaries with the country’s soccer governance.

“Juventus went ahead, but that didn’t surprise us, we knew all about it,” AIC president Damiano Tommasi said. “If there are no disagreements between a club and its players, we don’t feel the need to intervene. If they’ve come to an agreement, that’s fine as is.”

Negotiations at other clubs have not all been so harmonious.

When Lionel Messi and his Barcelona team-mates said that they were taking a 70 per cent cut in salaries on Monday, it came in a letter that criticised club officials for putting too much pressure on them “to do something that we always knew we would be doing”.

Salary talks between players and clubs are ongoing in the Premier League and elsewhere around Europe, too.

Chiellini, 35, who has made no public comments about his role in the negotiations, completed a bachelor’s degree in economics and commerce at the University of Turin in 2010 and then earned his master’s in 2017, graduating with honors.

Chiellini’s twin brother, Claudio, is the defender’s agent and also a manager at Juventus.​

AP

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