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A war of words: Clarifying the Sinan Kurt situation

As previously reported here at Bavarian Football Works, the 18-year old German-Turkish phenom, Sinan Kurt, a product of Borussia Mönchengladbach’s youth system, has caused some waves in German football over his recent decision to move to FC Bayern München. Sparks have been flying ever since between the two Bundesliga clubs’ management teams.

Lior Mizrahi

Gladbach's sport director, Max Eberl, decided to go public, accusing FC Bayern of inappropriately approaching a youth player under contract with another team, and is insisting that the youngster is tied to the club through 2016. The player and his agent, Michael Decker, are claiming the current deal expires in 2015. So, what's going on?

Some Background

Let's start from the beginning. Sinan Kurt was born in July of 1996, in Mönchengladbach, to a Turkish father and a German mother (giving him both citizenships), and has played in the Gladbach youth system since 2007, while also being called up to various levels of youth national teams for Germany, starting with U15, and recently getting the nod for the U19 team.

In his two seasons in the Borussia B-Jugend (aka U17), he registered a whopping 31 goals and 21 assists in 52 games. Dubbed "mini-Reus" by some, after the recently departed Marco Reus, he has attracted attention from many top clubs, which prompted Gladbach to sign him, at the age of 16, to a so-called Fördervertrag (roughly translated, a developmental contract, intended to legally bind youth players to their club).

Kurt's Contract Situation

The duration of the deal was for 3 years, which is the maximum allowable amount of time, as determined by the DFL. However, the club also had Sinan sign a separate 1-year deal, which would come into effect after the initial deal expired.

Now here's the rub: According to Decker, as reported in an interview with, that's not legal for multiple reasons.

Firstly, as mentioned above, three years is the maximum term on a contract with an underage player, and having him sign for another year appears to be an attempt to circumvent existing rules.

Secondly, the signing of the add-on 1-year deal, which takes effect when the player will be an adult, was done when the player was underage (16), and is not legally accepted in Germany. Technically speaking, even the last year of the first contract could possibly be nullified for the same reason, but Decker says he has no plans to file a suit, and his client is willing to abide by the original deal.

Thirdly, again according to Kurt's agent, Gladbach never officially submitted the second contract to the DFL (something he says the DFL confirmed).

A German sports law expert has sided with Kurt and his agent, saying that a court would most likely uphold the player's complaint.

It should be added that these contract issues were being questioned well before Bayern had expressed any interest.

Gladbach's complaint

According to Eberl, if Kurt goes to court, and challenges his contract, and is allowed to leave before 2016, it will set a precedent that will kill the youth system in the entire country, because clubs will not be able to hold on to the players that they spent time and money developing. However, this case appears to be no different than any other youth player that leaves, if his club failed to sign him to a professional contract (see Kevin Friesenbichler, a Bayern youth product that left to sign with Benfica).

Bayern's Offer

There have been conflicting accounts of what Bayern has offered in order to buy Sinan Kurt out of his contract. Initially, offers of €2.5m to €3m were reported, with Gladbach holding out for €5m. The latest rumors are that Bayern has offered only €500,000, but with bonuses of €1m each if Kurt ends up playing 100 BL games, and 10 games for the senior national team, which, if both events happen, would bring the total back to €2.5m, lining up with some of the original numbers.

What Happens Next?

It looks like FC Bayern is in the driver's seat. They have a player that does not want to sign a professional contract with his current club, and has publicly stated that he wants to transfer to the Rekordmeister. From all indications, his "real" contract is set to expire in the summer of 2015, and the add-on deal is not enforceable. Karl Heinz Rummenigge has already said that Bayern are ready to wait it out until next summer, if need be, and can then sign the talent for free.

It appears that Gladbach will either have to accept the current offer, or end up with absolutely nothing. Even appealing to the court of public opinion won't change the legal aspect of this dilemma.

What are your thoughts on the Sinan Kurt situation? Is Bayern being a bully, and stealing other clubs' talent? Or is this just the way the business works, and Gladbach are trying to cover for not handling things properly?

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