EXCLUSIVE: Former Sydney FC striker Brendon Santalab has started legal action through FIFA to recover money owed to him by his former Chinese club Chengdu Blades.
According to Santalab’s representatives, more than $70,000 is still owed by the Blades to the 29-year-old Australian striker.
Chengdu, who signed the player in 2009, attempted to block Santalab's move to current club Chongqing as a ploy designed to drop the wage claims.
That was before the Chinese FA intervened to allow the striker’s registration to go through allowing him to sign with Lawrie McKinna’s club.
Santalab's agent Lou Sticca said it was regrettable the Chinese FA, Football Federation Australia and now FIFA have been brought in to help resolve the dispute.
“Brendon served Chengdu Blades for three solid seasons and since the new owners came in over 15 months ago, they have not treated him with any degree of professionalism and respect,” he told au.fourfourtwo.com.
“Brendon is actually owed more than US$70,000 in back wages, on top of which he paid $10,000 out of his own pocket for medical treatment back in Australia to get himself over injuries he sustained in China last season.
“The last straw was Chengdu Blades’ attempt to force Santalab to forgo the money he is owed by threatening to block his transfer to Chongqing.
"That was outrageous and was immediately scuttled by the Chinese FA that allowed Brendon's registration with his new club to be processed immediately.
“It is poor form by Chengdu Blades and goes against the image that Chinese football is working hard to show the world that football in China is a serious and well run business.
"Chengdu Blades is a black mark for football in China and we will make sure they meet their obligations".
The Wollongong-born Santalab played for Sydney between 2007 and 2009 and scored some spectacular goals – including one at the Adelaide Oval against the Reds.
He subsequently racked up 14 goals in 24 games for the Blades, who were at that time part of Sheffield United’s global network of clubs that also included Central Coast Mariners.
Santalab scored his first goal for his new club Chongqing last week in a 1-1 draw with Hohhot Dongjin in Chinese League One.