x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Genk demand compensation from Vercauteren for breaking contract

Al Jazira's new manager wants matter resolved quickly with his old club. He will take training from Saturday.

Franky Vercauteren, left, will take control of his first training session on Saturday, until then he will watch the players train.
Franky Vercauteren, left, will take control of his first training session on Saturday, until then he will watch the players train.

ABU DHABI // Franky Vercauteren is in a pay dispute with his former club Racing Genk because he walked out on his contract to join Al Jazira.

The Belgian champions are demanding he pay compensation to make up for him ending his association with them to join the Abu Dhabi club this month, with some reports in the Belgian media suggesting a figure of €250,000 (Dh1.325 million).

But the two parties have yet to agree what this payment should be, after his shock departure two weeks ago.

Vercauteren, 54, wants this matter resolved as quickly as possible and, until that happens, he will not go into any further detail about why he choose Jazira at this stage of his career.

He could still have been in charge at Genk tonight as they try to overcome a 2-1 first-leg deficit against Maccabi Haifa with a place in the Champions League group stage at stake.

A win for Genk at home would guarantee revenue of more than €7m for the club that Vercauteren led to a first title in nine years.

Yet he turned his back on this challenge to join Jazira. Vercauteren says the move was motivated by footballing, rather than financial, reasons. However, he will only elaborate once the pay dispute is resolved.

The Belgian, however, was more than happy to discuss the plans he and Hugo Broos, his right-hand man, have for Jazira.

"I will take charge of my first training session on Saturday and until then Hugo and I will sit in the stand to observe the players," he told Belgian newspaper De Standaard.

"I would prefer to take a step back and get to know the players better.

"I must say that I have been really impressed by the infrastructure at the club. It is an incredible set-up. Everything is geared towards bringing more success to Al Jazira. The stadium and facilities are better than anyone could imagine.

"The welcome given to me by everyone behind the scenes has been amazing and I feel incredible joy to have been given this opportunity."

This public statement goes against the image of Vercauteren as a stern, private man who rarely speaks about his emotions.

However, he has been open about his, at least, year-long stay in the UAE and what challenges that will bring.

"I got a really good feeling about this move during the first two days I spent here when I originally came to Abu Dhabi for talks," he said. "That feeling has never left me.

"This is a beautiful city and while my family don't know a lot about it, they are really excited about coming to live in the Middle East. It's going to be a great experience for all of us."

Broos was Vercauteren's manager when the two worked together at Anderlecht, but the new senior partner does not believe there will be any problems now the roles have changed.

"I don't like the use of the word assistant because Hugo is not that, he is part of the team and we are equal," Vercauteren said.

"He knows me well and I am very lucky to have him with me."

ncameron@thenational.ae


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