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'We do not understand what happened' - Former Arsenal and Barcelona midfielder Alex Song shocked after Sion sacking

Alex Song has spoken for the first time after he and eight teammates were sacked by Swiss club FC Sion for refusing to take a pay cut following the outbreak of coronavirus.

Former Arsenal duo Song and Johan Djourou are among nine players to be sacked by Sion for refusing to take an unemployment settlement in light of the coronavirus.

The entire squad was contacted on WhatsApp by president Christian Constantin on Tuesday. Constantin’s message asked the players to take a "technical unemployment" deal which would see them receive a payment of around 9600 Swiss francs - an amount that is equivalent to 80% of the legal monthly salary in Switzerland.

Although many of the players refused or failed to reply, nine were subsequently let go - many of them on contracts that were due to expire at the end of June.

Defensive midfielder Song, 32, said he is prepared to go to FIFA and take legal action following his dismissal.

The former Barcelona player told RMC Sport: "We played a friendly on Friday (March 20) and we were supposed to meet with the president on Monday, then on Tuesday, he said. We had no news.

"We received a WhatsApp message on Tuesday afternoon to tell us that everyone had to sign a paper telling us that we were being lowered our wages, that we were going to be paid around 12,000 euros. We were to return the paper the next day at noon. We received this document without explanation."

Song said he did not want to sign the document without knowing exactly what it implied.

He said: "I am a footballer, it is not my job. There are people to verify that. I couldn't sign it, we didn't have any discussions.

"All the clubs are talking today. Our captain didn't know anything. We decided together not to sign this document. We wanted to talk.

"I did not make any professional misconduct. All the clubs talk to their players to find solutions. We do not understand what happened. No one can understand."

As well as Song and Djourou - both of whom played for Arsenal under Arsene Wenger - Christian Zock, Pajtim Kasami, Ermir Lenjani, Xavier Kouassi, Birama Ndoye, Mikael Facchinetti and Seydou Doumbia were dismissed without notice and are without a club as world football has ground to a halt in the face of the pandemic.

The Swiss Players Union, the SAFP, has protested the dismissals, calling them unfair, while the players are reported to be seeking legal advice.

The SAFP wrote: "You have terminated the employment contracts of the players without notice by letter dated 18 March 2020. We hereby expressly protest against this termination without notice."

The letter, issued to the Swiss club, adds: "We, therefore, expect you to withdraw these abusive terminations immediately and to enter into discussions on possible alternatives."