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Mandatory soccer insurance may leave players sidelined

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It is known as “the beautiful game,” and every weekend, up and down the length of the United Kingdom, games of Association Football — or soccer — can be seen taking place.

At the top echelons of the game, players command seven-figure salaries and clubs such as Manchester United, are mega global brands.

But in the lower leagues, money is more scarce and a temporary disablement for a semi-professional or amateur player can have huge financial consequences, according to an article in The Guardian.

In 2012, the Football Association, the governing body for soccer in England, Jersey and the Isle of Man, launched the so-called National Game Insurance Scheme, making personal accident insurance coverage mandatory for all 11-a-side teams.

The program covers 14,000 adult teams and about 200,000 players.

But some amateur and semi-professional players told the Guardian that the program leaves them eligible for just £30 ($43) a week in temporary disablement benefits if they are unable to work after sustaining an injury during a match.

One player — a graphic designer by trade — told the newspaper that he found the coverage inadequate when he broke his leg while training for his soccer side.

“My club are so tight on money that they can’t improve the insurance,” he told the paper.

“There are other players that are taxi drivers, couriers, plumbers, decorators, who are not in full-time work. If they get injured they are going to be in real financial trouble,” he said.

The standard team insurance policy provided via Bluefin Sport, the London-based brokerage that is the FA’s preferred broker for the NGIS – and provides cover for about 66% of amateur clubs in England, pays £30 a week for up to 104 weeks to cover a player’s loss of earnings, the Guardian reported.

The standard policy provides a one-off payment of £150 ($216) for a broken bone or dislocation, but clubs must pay an additional premium if they wish player to receive physiotherapy.

The Guardian reported that Francis Duku, a former non-league defense player, has established the Our Game Network to help players in the non-professional leagues.

Mr. Duku, an economics graduate who has worked in investment management, told the Guardian that players must be more aware of what they are entitled to claim in the event of an injury that prevents them from working.

The Our Game Network provides accident insurance policies as top-ups to the mandatory FA program.