The 13 most bizarre contract clauses in football history

It can take months for a player to agree personal terms with a new club.

There is far more to it than just how much they’re going to get paid.

There’s the length of the contract, image rights and all sorts of agreements to be made.

And some agreements are just bizarre.

Whether it’s the player’s decision to insert the specific clause or the club’s, we’ve identified 13 of the strangest contract clauses in football history.

Stefan Schwarz – Space clause

When Schwarz signed for Sunderland from Valencia in 1999, he was considering signing up for one of the first commercial flights to space.

So, Sunderland decided to insert a ‘space clause’ into his contract.

Sunderland’s chief executive, John Fickling, told the BBC at the time: “One of Schwarz’s advisers has, indeed, got one of the places on the commercial flights.

“And we were worried that he may wish to take Stefan along with him. So we thought we’d better get things tied up now rather than at the time of the flight.”

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Dennis Bergkamp – No-fly clause

From a player who wanted to take to the skies to a player who would do anything to avoid it. Bergkamp was scared of flying and missed many European away matches.

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Samuel Eto’o – Private Jet clause

Remember when Eto’o made the surprise move to Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala from Inter Milan in 2011? Well, that lucrative contract, which made him the world’s highest paid player, featured a private jet clause. It’s because he wanted to live in Moscow, rather than Makhachkala – more than 1000 miles away. A normal flight takes more than two hours but Eto’o could be home from training in an hour or so.

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Georg Koch – Racism clause

While some of these clauses are light-hearted and comical, this one certainly isn’t. German goalkeeper Koch feared he would be racially abused about his nationality after moving to PSV. It took just three months before he returned to Germany.

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Mario Balotelli – Good conduct clause

Liverpool’s decision to sign Balotelli back in 2014 looked a foolish one at the time. That proved to be the case with just four goals in 28 appearances in all competitions. He was on his best behaviour though because the Reds inserted a ‘good behaviour’ clause which meant he would have to leave if he misbehaved.

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Luis Suarez – Biting clause

After landing bites on opponents whilst playing at Ajax, Liverpool and Uruguay, Barcelona didn’t want history to repeat itself when they paid £64.98 million for him in 2014. Therefore, they reportedly included a ‘no biting’ clause which meant he would be sold if he did so. Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has since denied that such a clause exists.

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Ronaldinho – Two nights out clause

When Ronaldinho went back to Brazil in 2011 to sign for Flamengo, he just wanted to enjoy the final few years of his career. Therefore, he ensured the club included a clause where he was allowed two nights out a week. Legend.

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Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – 20-minute appearance clause

Arsenal had to pay Southampton a £10,000 appearance fee whenever Oxlade-Chamberlain played 20 minutes or more. If you saw him being subbed on in the 71st minute, you know why.

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Neil Ruddock – Weight clause

Ruddock has never been particularly athletic but when he joined Crystal Palace towards the end of his career, chairman Simon Jordan revealed how they attempted to help him keep in shape.

“I decided to put a 10 per cent penalty on the contract we were proposing to offer him if he was over the recommended weight of 99.8kg, which by the way was still frigging huge,” Jordan revealed.

Ruddock was fined eight times in less than six months.

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Roberto Firmino – Anti-Arsenal clause

Remember when Arsenal bid £40million + £1 for Luis Suarez in 2013? Well, Liverpool still remember it because when they signed Firmino from Hoffenheim in 2015, they included a €98million release clause “if the interested club is not Arsenal”.

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Giuseppe Reina – House clause

The German striker demanded his club, Arminia Bielefeld, built him a house for every year of his contract.

However, he didn’t give any dimensions and the club built him a house of LEGO for the three years of his contract. Brilliant.

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Stig Inge Bjornebye – No ski clause

The Norwegian was a keen ski jumper in his youth – a sport in which his father competed at the Olympics. But Liverpool weren’t having any of it and wouldn’t allow him within 200 yards of a ski slope. 

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Rolf-Christel Guie-Mien – Wife cooking lessons clause

When the Congolese midfielder joined Eintracht Frankfurt, he only agreed to sign a contract if his wife was given cooking lessons. Bet that went down well…

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