Are professional athletes allowed to do whatever they want in their free time? Soccer national player Serge Gnabry (27) had drawn the displeasure of his club FC Bayern Munich this week - because of a trip to Paris Fashion Week last weekend.
After being substituted in the game against 1. FC Köln during the week, Gnabry will not be in the starting XI against Eintracht Frankfurt this Saturday (6:30 p.m. / Sky). There are no requirements for leisure activities, said Bayern coach Julian Nagelsmann. What is the legal situation?
No special rights
"Basically, the employer has the right to issue instructions, which allows him to specify the content, place and time of the work - emphasis on work performance," said Martin Schimke, specialist lawyer for sports and labor law, the German Press Agency. However, this should not interfere with the private life of the employee. This includes professional athletes. No special rights apply to them.
"Of course, the question arises as to what extent a club can intervene in the player's private life through a contractual arrangement. But no blanket statements can be made," the expert specified. Clubs would have the opportunity to individually design contracts with their players. This could specify what the employed player has to do or not do in his or her free time. According to Schimke, however, this is seldom the case. He knows the regulations that say you don't practice any particularly dangerous sport during a season. "In my opinion, the case of Gnabry is rarely the subject of such contracts."
Even if Gnabry's fashion trip is a breach of contract, there are probably no major consequences for the 27-year-old. "The clubs usually don't want players to be fired without notice either. The player would then be free of charge," stressed Schimke. Labor law sometimes doesn't really apply to professional athletes. Sporting sanctions such as Nagelsmann's decision to take Gnabry out of the starting XI for the top game against Frankfurt or fines are conceivable. For tougher labor law consequences, a player would have to overdo it and act in a defamatory manner. "But it has to get pretty big and usually be warned first," said Schimke.