In European football, it’s not uncommon to see players who have been a key part of a team suddenly fall out with their club. Whether it’s a transfer offer from another club, a desire to win, or a bigger payday, players want to leave as soon as possible.
Hwang In-beom (27, Olympiakos) has suddenly become the subject of such a controversy. Greek media outlet Gazeta Greece quoted a club source as saying on the 11th (KST), “Hwang In-bum has informed the team of his intention to break his contract and transfer. He still has two more years left on his contract.”
Olympiakos is furious with Hwang’s attitude. “Olympiakos is unable to tolerate his behaviour and is discussing (legal proceedings) with the club’s legal team,” the outlet said. “The club believes that ‘no one can be above the team’. Hwang’s behaviour was an accident and unprofessional.”
In professional football, a player with time left on his contract has no rights. Many clubs will let a player go if they want them, either as a way to look to the future and collect a transfer fee, or if they realise that a player is no longer useful to the team.
When a player is too important to the team to be allowed to leave, there are two options. The player can either re-sign with the club and increase his salary, or he can become a free agent and negotiate directly with the club of his choice.
In addition to Gazeta, a number of local Greek media outlets have been following the situation with interest. They all report that Olympiakos is furious with Hwang’s transfer request and will not hesitate to take legal action.
Olympiakos head coach Diego Martinez ahead of this season. /Photo=Olympiakos official social media
Sotris Alexandropoulos, the new head coach of Olympiakos. /Photo: Olympiakos official social media accounts
Vicente Iborra joined the team this summer. /Photo=Olympiakos official social media
The player who gave up Europe for the team… What is the truth behind the transfer demands?
Hwang In-bum started his career with his hometown club Daejeon Citizen (now Daejeon Hana Citizen) before being discharged early from the military after winning gold at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta-Palembang. He then decided to pursue a career overseas, choosing the Vancouver Whitecaps of the American Major League Soccer (MLS).
Initially, it was reported that there were teams in Europe that wanted him, but he chose to head to the United States after paying a transfer fee to his family’s team, which was struggling financially. At the time, he repeatedly said, “It’s my choice,” as if he was conscious of the public’s disappointment in his decision to leave Europe.
After a successful career in Vancouver, Hwang moved to Rubin Kazan in the Russian Premier League, where he joined FC Seoul on loan due to the Russian-Ukrainian war. After impressing in his short time there, he moved to Olympiakos last summer and quickly won a place in the first team.
He made 32 appearances for the Greek side last season, scoring three goals and providing four assists, and was a key cog in the team’s attack despite a change of manager. He kept the ball with his fluent breakaway ability and endeared himself to the fans with his penetrating passes. “Olympiakos were very surprised by Hwang’s transfer request,” said Erz Sports in Greece. It was unexpected,” and “Hwang In-bum has been a professional throughout his career.”
The problem came this summer. We didn’t see much of him in pre-season games. After the arrival of new coach Diego Martinez at the beginning of last month, Olympiakos brought in Vicente Iborra (Spain), Sotiris Alexandropoulos (Greece), and Jordan Hallsgrove (Scotland) – all potential competitors for Hwang – to fill in for him during the pre-season.
The Greek media reported that Hwang In-Bum had requested a transfer and was dropped from the roster for the game against FC Henk on the 11th, but Hwang himself may have decided that he was already out of the manager’s plans.
Until recently, Hwang has been cautious about communicating his desire to leave the club, expressing his gratitude to the club, so it’s hard to understand why he would unilaterally demand a move abroad with the remainder of his contract remaining.
Hwang In-beom in action during a pre-season match this summer. /Photo=Olympiakos official social media