Big names quit as Sporting Lisbon unravel

Portugal international William Carvalho is one of four players to quit Sporting Lisbon

Four more Sporting Lisbon players have rescinded their contracts with the troubled Portuguese football club.

Portugal internationals William Carvalho, Gelson Martins, Bruno Fernandes and Dutch striker Das Bost all filed notice with the Portuguese Securities Market Commission on Monday that they were breaking their contracts with Sporting.

They all claimed "just cause" in emails sent to the commission and are now set to leave for nothing after terminating their contracts.

Goalkeeper Rui Patricio and forward Daniel Podence already quit the team two weeks ago, while coach Jorge Jesus left Sporting and signed with Saudi club Al-Hilal last week.

The mass exit comes at the end of a tumultuous season for Sporting with clashes between players and both of the club's most radical fans and president.

Last month, about 50 fans forced their way into the team's training centre and assaulted players and staff. At least one player was injured and the club's changing room was trashed. Police detained more than 20 suspects in the hours following the incident.

In April, outspoken president Bruno De Carvalho harshly criticised his team's performance against Atletico Madrid in the Europa League, and pointed out mistakes by individual players on social media.

The players responded by posting a joint statement defending their commitment to the club and questioning the manners of De Carvalho, saying he should support them as their "leader."

There were recent reports - all unconfirmed - blaming De Carvalho for the attacks by fans on the players and coaches. The president, who reportedly used to belong to a radical fan group, denied the accusations.

Patricio, Carvalho, Martins and Fernandes are all with Portugal in Russia getting ready for their World Cup opener against Spain on Friday.

De Carvalho told a press conference reported by Record: "We are sorry that Sporting is going through a situation like this, living (in) doubt, uncertainty, anguish."

The Sporting president said the club had to consider the next move and urged the players to rethink, setting a deadline of Friday for them to commit to remain with the club.

"We have to make a decision, look at Sporting and make a decision. I have not yet entered that of Bas Dost. What is in these five letters, and I imagine the sixth one, has no basis at all for just cause. And we are not nuts. We know what we are saying."

Patricio has been linked with a move to newly-promoted EPL outfit Wolves, midfielder Carvalho is rumoured to be a transfer target for Everton while winger Martins has been linked with Arsenal.