Swiss courts have backed the decision of the Federal Migration Office to deny the Serbian football player Veljko Simic a residence permit. The 19-year-old had signed a contract with FC Basel but is not allowed to work in Switzerland because he has not been playing at the highest level of his sport for long enough.
The Federal Administrative Court, which hears appeals against the decisions of federal authorities, ruled on Thursday that the migration office had reached the correct decision regarding Simic’s work permit, thereby ruling against FC Basel’s appeal. The migration office requires that football players from outside the EU/EFTA area between the ages of 18 and 21 who want to play for a Swiss side must have played for a team at the highest level of the sport for at least one year.
Simic and FC Basel argued he should have been given an exceptional work permit because he was the youngest player in history to get a contract from the Red Star Belgrade club and was recruited by clubs in Amsterdam and Turin before signing with Basel. But he had not regularly played for the highest-level teams, despite having had brief stints with teams in Serbia’s professional and junior leagues between 2011 and 2013.
Under his contract with FC Basel, Simic would have earned CHF8000 ($8966) in his first year of playing, CHF13,000 in his second year, CHF16,000 in the third, CHF21,000 in the fourth and CHF24,000 in the fifth year. FC Basel paid Red Star Belgrade €225,000 in training compensation for Simic.
In its decision, the court stated that it “did not find Simic to have exceptional qualities” and questioned the quality of Red Star Belgrade.
“The best times are behind this club, which was a champion multiple times in the former Yugoslavia,” the court wrote. For that reason, it questioned Simic’s argument of having played in a top European club as qualification for his residence permit.
swissinfo.ch and agencies