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Fired and rehired - Ex-Fulham star Kasami on 'keeping calm' during lockdown

09:00 BST 02/06/2020
Pajtim Kasami
FC Sion hit the headlines when they laid off nine of their playing staff, including ex-Premier League players Kasami, Alex Song and Johan Djourou

Pajtim Kasami and his FC Sion team-mates received a WhatsApp message at the outset of the coronavirus crisis that they weren't expecting.

They were given immediate notice from club president Christian Constantin that their contracts would be terminated after questioning an initial request to take a "technical unemployment" deal.

Nine players in total were let go including former Arsenal duo Johan Djourou and Alexandre Song. The Swiss Players Union (SAFP) , then protested the dismissals as unfair.

For now, Kasami will stay on. He returned to training on Monday with the Swiss Super League restarting on June 20. The 27-year-old is now looking for an agreement to complete the season.

But with former club Olympiakos, Wolves and Valencia reportedly interested in acquiring his services, it looks like his long-term future again lies outside his country of birth.

"I think it was more a lack of communication in my club with me," Kasami tells Goal. "We had only been told on WhatsApp that we should agree on a salary reduction. We didn’t have chats one by one.

"Then, the majority of the team said no because we needed more explanation about it. My lawyer said no, then the next day we received a negative response from the club again through WhatsApp saying that we are being released because of it.

"It was a shock and because of the virus, there was not a lot going on in football so it was quite a big news story. It wasn’t nice to be honest [that] this was out there but then there were more important things going on around the virus.

"It was a lack of communication and I still think you should discuss things internally as is what happened with my friends at other clubs around Europe. They didn’t make the headlines but we did.

"We ultimately took a salary reduction while we are not training fully, but on Monday, we are back 100 per cent so things are normal again. But players with their contract expiring on June 30, we are in discussions to make an agreement with the club to continue until the end of the season.

"This is my scenario and I will be discussing next week with my club about this. The season starts on June 20 to finish in August. It is a problem in all leagues except Germany. My contract is until June 30 so it will not change a lot.

"As the season continues, I will probably extend my stay until the last game of the season and then after I am a free agent. The last three seasons here in Sion have personally been very positive. I can be happy with them.

Kasami, who has won two Greek league titles, one Greek Cup, the Under-17 World Cup and a nomination for FIFA's Puskas Award has scored eight times in the league this season.

"Of course, we can always do more. The season is still on with 13 games to play. I want to break my personal goal record this season. It is like a new season but one to finish too. It is exciting and important to stay fit and healthy. I am confident I can break this record.

"I think I am at my best age of football so I am ready for the next challenge in my career. In football a month ago, everyone was saying they don’t know, they don’t know but now it is a bit better. I think in two or three weeks that the situation can be much better and clearer.

"I just need to stay positive; my agent is doing all the work so I am staying fit and get back to form with Sion. I like to experience the best football in the best leagues. Where will that be? I don’t know yet.

"It is a tricky question because for me the best league in the world is the Premier League but I like Italy and Spain. I have played in England, Italy and Greece so maybe to experience Spain would be something to love. But it has to be the right project and then we go from there."

The 12-time Switzerland international is proud of his country's track record during the Covid-19 pandemic and has the lockdown very seriously throughout.

"We, as athletes, are role models in these moments," he adds. "I didn’t see my parents in Zurich for a long time and I stayed living alone. I only left the house to run and go to the supermarket for my elderly neighbour and me. She has been giving me flowers from her garden in return.

"It was strange, tough but at the same time, you can learn more about yourself. I think we can see from the numbers that we took it seriously. I am not a virologist or a doctor, so I respect something I don’t understand."