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Football fund fed up with spoil sports

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  • Football fund fed up with spoil sports

NETHERLANDS - CFK, the €560m pension fund for Dutch professional footballers, is in talks with the regulator to implement an investment maximum to avert further scrutiny from members.

Dutch media reported earlier this week some members of the obligatory fund are dissatisfied with the conservative investment strategy and low returns.

However, the fund's chief executive, Ben-Ivar Kolster, argues the fund - a ‘bridging' fund set up in the early 1970s for the increasingly high-earning professional football players - is for "the average football player".

"Salaries have sky-rocketed since the mid 1990s and we still do not have an investment maximum, which means if someone earns a lot, he still puts in about half of his salary," he told IPE.

"I can understand some members' frustration with CFK's conservative investment approach," he added, explaining three-quarters of the assets are invested in fixed income.

Kolster told IPE since the fund was not intended to be designed in this way, CFK has approached the regulator to implement an investment cap.

The scheme does not make use of 'so-called' intergenerational solidarity, footballers put, on average, 35% of their gross income into the scheme, but every footballer has his own fund which is invested.

Since July 1 last year, the fund has reached a return of 1.6%, "in the previous fiscal year, we had a return of 5%," said Kolster.

The fund is set up to make monthly payments to retired football players over a period of around 10 years, so the athletes can work on a new career without getting into financial difficulty.

However, CFK has been criticised in recent weeks for paying ex-footballer Yassine Abdellaoui his entire pension savings of €500,000 at once in 2003.

Kolster, who only recently joined the fund, told IPE this is a breach of the fund's articles of association and the CFK will not be bullied into making lump sum payments to retired footballers again.

On various occasions in the past, ex-footballers threatened staff into paying lump sums, despite the fact the CFK is set up as a fund which to provide a monthly income over a period of 10 years, he added.

"You have the formal right of monthly payments for 10 years, you do not have the right to get a lump sum payment," he explained, adding CFK will immediately go to the police if members make threats.

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