- Andrija Živković’s contract with Partizan expires this June. The club must either sell the player as soon as possible or they must extend the contract with him, because if they can’t sell him before his contract expires, then the club must pay a punishment fee of 2,5 million euros to a certain Pini Zahavi
- This agreement with Pini Zahavi has a key role in this story, yet the contract about this agreement hasn’t been seen by anyone. Both Andrija Živković and his father claim that they had never seen the contract in question, nor they had signed it. Those who supposed to know about it, e.g. the former FK Partizan president Dragan Đurić denies everything, while the club’s sports director Albert Nagy didn’t say any fact about the contract.
- Fans are upset, while current sports director Ivica Iliev leads the most disgusting atrocity campaign in the media against Živković, blaming the young player as the only scapegoat for the situation emerged. This campain, that sometimes crossed even the borders of perversion divided the fans even more.
Before we continue the story, let’s take a good look at this Pini Zahavi. Those average fans who get their infos from reading the news might not know much about him, apart from he is from Israel and works as a football agent. During the past days I searched a bit about Zahavi on my own pat, just to know who is he and what is his actual role in this tale.
Pini Zahavi started buying and selling football players in the early 1990's. Since then he became one of the most influental - if not the most influental - so-called "super agent". He owns the rights of such players as Carlos Tévez or Neymar. It's not only football he is involved in (though football is his main activity), he is in close contact with top category businessmen, politicians and CEO's. It was mainly his "credit" that Roman Abramovich became the owner of FC Chelsea. Zahavi has interests mainly in Premier League, though he is the owner of Belgian team Mouscron among others. He bought the Belgian team some time in 2010 for 8,5 million euros, as he said "for the price of a young talent". For this he used a dummy company in Malta with Jean-Luc Gripond (former FC Nantes president) and a certain Teny Yerima, a football agent from Cameroon as co-owners. He has other interests of the same kind in Luxembourg, Gibraltar and the US as well. He is the co-owner of Quality Sports Investments as well as Football Ireland (the owners of these companies are Roman Abramovich, Jorge Mendes - another influental football agent - and Peter Kenyon, FC Chelsea's CEO). He has numerous other offshore businesses all around the world.
When FIFA banned third party ownership at player transfers (agents and investors are prohibited to take part in transfers), Pini Zahavi and other dodgy rascals found out how they can avoid regulations by using legal loopholes to still make profit. They bought insignificant small clubs that were on the verge of bankruptcy (sometimes they immediately sold it on paper to a close friend or business partner), and as from then on they were club owners (either by person or by those "coverers" mentioned earlier) they could buy any player they wanted. Then these players were soon sold to top category clubs for a lot of money. Zahavi keeps at least 4-5 more clubs in his hand out of Mouscron, e.g. Apollon Limassol from Cyprus or Maccabi Haifa from Israel among others. FIFA is helpless, because no illegal activity can be proven against them.
Zahavi & co. got interested in Serbian football some time around 2014, presuming it as a great chance for great business. For this we must know that Serbian clubs are very poor, even Partizan and even the club on the other side of the street (aka Crvena Zvezda). Serbian clubs have no sponsors, they don't get any share from TV-broadcasting rights, their only income is when they can sell their players. Partizan and Zvezda literally asked these foreign agents to help them. These agents (Zahavi among others) paid the players' salaries and later they sold them to foreign clubs. One of the most well-known agents was a certain Fali Ramadani, his name might sound very familiar for many. He is the owner of LIAN sports agency, which has monopoly over Partizan-players. This Ramadani became Zahavi's "coverer" in Serbia. Ramadani's job is to sell and buy players, while Zahavi keeps the log rolling from his Tel-Aviv cave.
Back in 2012 the old scoundrel Zahavi bought all the rights of Lazar Marković from Partizan. He literally owned 100 % of Markec’s economical rights. He is said to pay 7 million euros for them to Partizan (others deny it, saying that Zahavi never pays more than 2-3 million for a young player). He bought Andrija Živković’s rights for 1,5 million euros with the reservation that he’ll get 25 % of Živković’s next transfer amount. This is the money he won’t receive, if Partizan can’t sell Živković before the expiration of his contract. Zahavi fails to get his money, and Partizan must pay the punishment they agreed about in the contract in question.
Former FK Partizan president Dragan Đurić was eventually willing to tell a few details about the Živković-case, but only after some mud-throwing. He claims that clubs do have the right to sell the players’ economical rights and back then, when the Zahavi-contract was signed, they indeed didn’t tell about it to the player and his family. The reason, as Đurić says was that they sold those rights that were owned by the club and not those owned by the family. (That was all the media could pull out of Đurić. Apart from this he keeps on washing his hands saying that he wasn’t even there when the club signed this contract with Zahavi. Yet he claims that the contract is 100 % legal.)
The media campaign against Živković continued. Someone released an open letter in the name of Partizan’s Youth School, which was nothing more than a fusty moralizing. In short, they demanded Andrija to be a nice, obedient boy, not to forget where he came from. Sports director Ivica Iliev continued the most disgusting, sanctimonious atrocity campaign in the media.
Iliev claims that they wanted to give a "blank contract" to Andrija, suggesting that the boy should write down under what kind of conditions he would be willing to extend his contract. Whatever Živković asks, the club will do it, anything that makes him extend the contract. What is more, Iliev even ordered TV-cameras to the meeting room to broadcast it live.
The whole scene didn’t take more than 15 minutes. Živković stood up without writing down a single word and walked out. Neither he signed it, nor he wrote anything into the blank contract.
Finally the management decided to suspend Živković for the rest of the season if he is not willing to extend his contract. They gave a deadline of 3rd February at 12:00 pm, Živković could decide until then whether they sign the contract or not.
What makes it especially grotesque is that Živković’s contract will expire only in June 2016. Until then they could have had more than enough time to decide and agree about the possible extending. Whose interest was it (and why) to have this soap opera in the winter break?
It did have its consequences. Jovica Živković released another open letter, where he told the entire Partizan-management where to get off. The very angry letter does not reveal further facts, the furious father declares only one thing: after this disgusting mud-throwing his son will not sign any contract until the summer. We didn’t have to wait too long for Iliev’s reaction. The sports director didn’t spare his poisonous verbal knives from Jovica Živković.
Finally, as anyone could guess it, Andrija Živković didn’t sign anything until the Thursday noon deadline. He had to leave the training camp in Cyprus, and from now on he must visit the trainings of Teleoptik together with all the other black sheeps of Partizan (Lazar Ćirković, Živko Živković, Predrag Luka, Filip Knežević).
The most tragic in it is that it is Andrija Živković, whom nobody ever asked what he actually wants.
The team released an open letter, if you have a strong stomach, you can read it here.
What is sure now, with this step Partizan pushed their fingers in their own eyes. After this scandal Andrija Živković will surely not extend his contract with the club. He will be a free agent, he can go wherever he wants, and Partizan must pay to Zahavi and Ramadani. Other than this, they’ll lose an amazingly talented, goal-scorer world champion right wing.
And let’s not talk about the consequences in the long run.