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Gov't to intercede in baseball contract talks

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Education Minister Chiang Wei-ling (蔣偉寧) yesterday said that the Sports Administration will assist the Chinatrust Brother Elephants players in signing new contracts with the team's new owner in order to stabilize the development of professional baseball in Taiwan.

Hua Yi Entertainment (華翼育樂公司), with the sponsorship of Chinatrust Commercial Bank, took over the Brother Elephants in a NT$400 million move on Jan. 1, 2014, but reports indicate that around 30 players have not yet signed contracts offered by the new owner.

Chiang said that he will ask the Sports Administration to look into the matter and actively help the players in signing their new contracts.

“This is very important to the stable development of Taiwan's professional baseball, which is currently the only professional sport in Taiwan,” said Chiang. “Therefore, it is necessary for authorities to intervene in the contract signing process.”

The Brother Elephants, one the most popular teams in Taiwan's professional baseball league, was put up for sale because of heavy financial losses by Brother Hotel, the team's founder and former owner for the past 29 years.

Chinatrust had at one time sponsored its own baseball team, the “Chinatrust Whales,” which joined the CPBL in 1996. The team, however, disbanded in 2008 due to Chinatrust's financial losses.

Players Seek Help from Union

Nearly 30 players on the Chinatrust Brother Elephants turned to the baseball players' union regarding doubts they held about the contracts provided by the team's new owner.

A representative from Chinatrust who attended the start of preseason training exercises on Monday claimed that most players have agreed to new contracts, with about 30 players reportedly holding out because the name of the team as listed on the new contracts is “Brother Elephants” rather than “Chinatrust Brother Elephants.”

According to some players, only the team manager of the former management team, who previously had disputes with over 10 players over contract issues, could be reached during the process of contract negotiations.

One team member said that some players who do not trust the team manager demanded to talk to a representative from Chinatrust, but the representative directed them to talk to the manager instead.

Chao Tzu-wei (趙子維), the spokesman of the baseball players' union, said that the incident does not represent an appeal, and the union has no comment on the issue at present.

“However, some players did worry that they might not be able to express what they want to say, so they asked the union to speak for them,” said Chao.

Chao said that the problem was not about money, as the players did not take issue with the compensation levels as offered in the new contracts, but simply hoped that Chinatrust would resolve some of their doubts before they would sign the new agreements.

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