As we have seen this year, Barcelona know a thing or two about crazy contracts, but even they have exceeded themselves by including a €1 billion release clause in 18-year-old Pedri’s new five-year contract. Equal with Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema, this figure is the highest release clause in the world of sport, but it also got us thinking - what are some of the craziest and quirkiest clauses that sports stars have had put into their contracts?
No going to space, Stefan
When Sunderland paid £4m for Valencia’s Swedish international Stefan Schwarz in 1999, fans were thrilled at the prospect of welcoming a player with such European pedigree to the Stadium of Light. The board were excited too, but keen to protect their new investment. One of Schwarz’s advisors had got a place on a commercial flight to space, set to take off in 2002, and Sunderland were worried that he may choose to take his close friend with him.
So inside his contract they inserted a clause that said his contract would be cancelled if he ever travelled to space. Less Rocket Man and more rocket ban - but it worked from the club’s point of view. Schwarz stayed firmly on terra firma in the north-east until he retired in 2003.
No Ronaldinho, no party
Brazilian World Cup winner Ronaldinho was known for enjoying a party lifestyle, even when he was at the peak of his career. Perhaps that is why he didn’t play in Europe past the age of 31, but when he returned to his homeland with Flamengo he was ready to let his hair down. In his contract, Flamengo agreed to two nights a week where the Ballon d’Or winner could go out, party, and the club would not complain.
Oh Luis, please don’t bite
Barcelona again. When they brought in Luis Suarez from Liverpool he was one of the finest strikers in the world, but he did have the tendency to bite players. Otman Bakkal, Branislav Ivanovic and Giorgio Chiellini were all on the receiving end of those teeth, so Barca took drastic measures. If Suarez bit another player while playing for their club, they could cancel his contract. He never did it again.
‘I’m gonna pick up the pieces and build a Lego house’
Giussepe Reina thought he had hit the jackpot when he signed for Arminia Bielefeld in 1996, as the Bundesliga club agreed to build a house for him for every year he was at the club. Given he had a three-year contract this was expected to be a profitable clause for the player, but unfortunately for him, the club had the last laugh. There were no stipulations or regulations on how big the houses had to be, or what they had to be made of - so at the end of his first year, they handed over a tiny house built out of Lego. Genius.
Sushi to go?
Away from football, when 44-year-old baseball legend Manny Ramirez joined the Kochi Island Fighting Dogs of the Japanese independent Shikoku Island League, he got some outstanding clauses put into his contract. As well as being able to wear the number 99 shirt with ‘Manny’ on the back - attendance at practice was optional for him and he was given a suite at every hotel when they played away games.
Oh and the biggest perk? Free unlimited sushi, whenever he wanted it.
A dog’s life
From baseball to basketball, animal lover Steve Novak had a dog clause in his New York Knicks contract. As he was allergic to dogs, when signed with the club, from 2011 to 2013, Novak was banned from keeping a pet dog, as it could rule him out of games. If he was found out to have got a four-legged friend, then he would have faced a $100,000 fine, with the money going to an animal charity.