[23 June 2015] - MSPs have been told that footballers as young as 10 are being held hostage by clubs with "contracts" that may not be worth the paper they are written on.
Children's Commissioner Tam Baillie made his claim to members of Holyrood's public petitions committee.
He wants children to have rights and the freedom to move clubs more easily.
Mr Baillie claimed some clubs requested payments from rivals for children who had come through their academies but failed to reach an agreement.
MSPs heard that clubs tie 10-year-olds to contracts which forbid them from playing for other clubs, and can even restrict them from playing for their school team despite guidance to deter the practice by the Scottish Football Association (SFA).
Mr Baillie presented a raft of recommendations to prevent children's rights being breached, including the freedom for children to give 28 days' notice to resign from a club.
Mr Baillie said: "If the young person chooses to get out of that 'contract' they are sometimes left as a hostage to the original club, because there is a dispute over the payment and this can last for quite a period of time.
"In theory, you could have them held year on year because the payments have not been made."
He added: "There is an issue about 10-year-olds signing what they think are contracts, and potentially being held to those right through their formative years.
"There is an issue about 15-year-olds being held to contracts, sometimes against their wishes, for a further two years until they are 17.
"And I think there are issues in respect of the perception that they are not allowed to play for clubs or their behaviour is restricted by the 'contracts', which I would put in inverted commas because there is quite a bit of debate about whether they are contracts or not.
"As far as the children are concerned, they have signed a contract and it impacts on their behaviour because they don't get to play for schools on some occasions, not all, and there are certainly restrictive practices there."
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