Impact of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic on players and their associations

Impact of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic on players and their associations

On 14th of October 2020, EU Athletes held an online exchange with the member player associations, in order to discuss the current situation in different sport and countires regarding the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on sport, athletes and their associations. The summary of the key points from the discussion can be found here.

EU Athletes supports Belarusian athletes and calls for the release of Yelena Leuchanka

EU Athletes supports Belarusian athletes and calls for the release of Yelena Leuchanka

U Athletes shares serious concerns expressed by the international community regarding the situation in Belarus. We stand in solidarity with nearly 700 athletes and other persons from Belarusian sport who have called for, among others, new elections, end to police violence and assistance to all victims of illegal actions of the regime in their open letter[1]. The Free Union of Athletes has become a source of inspiration for the protests, despite the risks for their professional and personal situation and safety.

As the protests continue, participants are reportedly being arbitrarily detained by the police and subject to torture and other ill-treatment. Top basketball player Yelena Leuchanka was arrested at Minsk airport on 30th of September, while trying to leave the country for a scheduled medical treatment. She was sentenced for 15-day prison sentence, for violating an administrative code regarding the organization and holding of mass events.

We condemn the arbitrary and violent treatment of the protesters and using any other type of pressure or repressions, including sporting and economic, against the Belarusian athletes. We are dedicated to protecting and promoting the rights of all athletes in Europe and we are following this matter while cooperating with international player associations movement and human rights experts.

EU Athletes calls upon international organizations, governments the Olympic movement and sport organizations to demand and do everything in their power to assure:

  • Immediate release of Yelena Leuchanka and closure of any proceedings against her.
  • Respect and protection of the human rights of Belarusian athletes, including freedom of expression and freedom of association.
  • That no athletes suffer any further sporting, legal or other retributions for their activism.
  • Support the athletes’ demand for the full restoration of democracy, rule of law and human rights in Belarus.


Photo: Yelena Leuchanka, Instagram

Covid-19 impact on players and their player associations

Covid-19 impact on players and their player associations

Today EU Athletes publishes the results of its preliminary research on impact of Covid-19 on players and their player associations. The results are based on the questionnaire sent to EU Athletes’ member player associations, with 29 associations from more than 15 countries and wide range of sports participating.

The results clearly confirm the importance of player association movement, with the membership of associations growing and demand for services increasing. It demonstrates that, especially in the times of crisis, player associations are the ones that offer athletes the support they need. At the same time, many of player associations are expecting financial deficits and can be preoccupied about their long-term sustainability, but have not been receiving public financial support that would allow them to continue to offer support to their member athletes.

It is to be noted that athletes’ worker status and rights were identified as an important issue. Nearly half of associations have had cases of athletes’ contracts being unlawfully terminated or modified by the employers. When it comes to players not being able to receive government financial support, lack of contract or the type of contract and the employment status were indicated most often as reasons.

Looking to future, the player associations are worried that there will be fewer professional contracts in sport and reduced salaries for those still working as athletes and identified mental health concerns as a likely outcome for players from the pandemic. Almost half of the respondents thought the impact of Covid-19 will be worse for women’s athletes, which should lead to considering targeted support for elite-level women’s sport.

For Paulina Tomczyk, the General Secretary of EU Athletes: ‘First of all, this report clearly confirms the essential role of player associations, especially in the time of crisis, and this should be acknowledged and supported. There is also an urgent need to address issues such as athletes’ worker status and their labour and other rights. Current situation demonstrates that abuses in this area put athletes in particularly vulnerable position.’

The report is followed by recommendations, adopted by the EU Athletes General Assembly on the 18th of June, aiming to address the negative impact of Covid-19 on players and their associations. EU Athletes remains committed to dialogue with the sport sector, governments and European organizations in order to overcome the current crisis but also to make sport more sustainable and resilient in the future.

Find the full report here.

For any inquiries please contact Paulina Tomczyk, EU Athletes General Secretary

EU Athletes General Assembly 2020

EU Athletes General Assembly 2020

EU Athletes General Assembly, held virtually this year due to the current situation, too place yesterday and gathered over 30 representatives of player and athlete unions and associations from different countires and sports in Europe.

Exchanges between associations included a presentation and feedback on the results of a preliminary research on the impact of Covid-19 pandemic on players and players associations. The research highlighted, on the one hand, the importance of player associations and increased demand due to the current crisis and on the other hand, potential long-term issues for the athlete movement.

The participants also had an opportunity to hear from Yves Le Lostecque, Head of the Sport Unit at the European Commission, about the sport policy at the EU level and the response to Covid-19 crisis.

During the GA, Paul Flynn from Gaelic Players Association and Simon Keogh from Rugby Players Ireland from were elected to the EU Athletes Board. Camille Delzant (Union nationale des footballeurs professionnels) and Simon Taylor (Professional Players Federation) were reelected for next terms.

#EUSportIntegrityDay, together against match-fixing

Match-fixing is widely recognized as a major threat for today’s sport, undermining the integrity of the game. Because of organized crime involvement, it can put athletes and other individuals at serious danger. If not acted upon, it could destroy sports that we all love because of the loss of public faith that can be caused by corruption. Therefore, any action to promote and sustain the fight of this threat is paramount and beneficial for all the stakeholders in the sport sector, including player associations.

Every year since 2014, the 15th of April is the day dedicated to sport integrity. The #EUSportIntegrityDay, promoted by EU Athletes, is an occasion to show the commitment and make a stand against the against match-fixing. The initiative aimed at raising awareness consists of a social media campaign that can be supported by all stakeholders: public authorities, sports organizations, betting operators and regulators, athletes, coaches, referees, fans and all the other organizations and people who care about the integrity in sport.

This year, the campaign has seen a significant support, with the hashtag #EUSportIntegrityDay reaching over 800.000 potential impressions on social media on he 15th of April alone. Many player associations actively promoted the #EUSportIntegrityDay message, as well as organizations such as the European Commission, The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the International Betting Integrity Association and many others.

For more info about the campaign, you can visit the website.