UNDER FIRE: Dumped Newcastle Jets marquee star Jason Culina. – Picture by Getty ImagesFOOTBALL Federation Australia has accused the players’ union of mischief-making in asserting FFA was responsible for insuring disenfranchised former Socceroo Jason Culina.
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The Professional Footballers Association launched legal action last Thursday, accusing FFA of not ensuring Culina’s former club Gold Coast took out an insurance policy when they signed him as a marquee player in 2009.

PFA chief executive Brendan Schwab suggested in the Newcastle Herald on Saturday that Culina’s bitter split with the Jets could have been avoided had the 31-year-old midfielder been appropriately insured.

In a statement issued yesterday, FFA corporate affairs and communications director Kyle Patterson said the PFA was ‘‘trying to make out that this situation involving Jason Culina can be boiled down to a dispute between FFA and Jason over insurance’’.

“This assertion is a red herring; a quite mischievous distraction from what’s happening. You have to question the PFA’s motives in running this line through the media,’’ Patterson said.

“FFA doesn’t intend to talk specifically about Jason’s case, other than to say our advice is that the Newcastle Jets have been meeting their obligations under Jason’s contract, as they should.

“We also understand that Jason is working hard on his rehabilitation in order to get back into action, which is great news for Australian football … On behalf of the football community, we wish him well in his efforts to return to playing football.”

Clarifying rules for marquee players, Patterson said any club that contracted one was responsible for all costs, including insurance, and subsequent liabilities. Costs, as with benefits, rest with that club, not FFA, the A-League or other clubs, because not all clubs signed marquee players.

That information seems to contradict clause 3.2 of the PFA-FFA collective bargaining agreement, which states: ‘‘FFA must establish and maintain such insurance as is necessary to cover the remuneration and entitlements of a league player … for the period of any injury, illness or ailment sustained arising out of or in the course of his employment with a league club.’’

Culina suffered a serious knee injury representing the Socceroos in January while contracted to the Gold Coast.

After surgery, he signed a $2.65million three-year deal with Newcastle.

The Jets asked FFA in October to set aside that contract and sacked his father, Branko, as coach.

? Newcastle’s round-24 home game against Brisbane has been brought forward from 4pm, Sunday, March 18, to 5.30pm, Saturday, March 17, to fit in with the Roar’s Asian Champions League schedule.

The W-League game between Newcastle and Sydney on Saturday has been switched from Belmore Sportsground to Campbelltown Stadium.