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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
On 31st of March 2020, EU Athletes Executive Board held an online emergency meeting in order to discuss latest developments related to the Coronavirus pandemic and its impact on sport and the athletes. In the time of a global public health crisis, many of player associations and players themselves have demonstrated an exemplary leadership, dedication and solidarity related to this unprecedented situation.
EU Athletes and its members are committed to making sure that professional and elite level sport in Europe remains a viable and sustainable business in the long-term. During the discussion, Board members exchanged about the way that clubs, leagues and federations in different sports and countries are dealing with the current situation. It was agreed that in order to find adequate short and long-term solutions to various challenges facing sport sector, there is a need to prioritize dialogue and stakeholder engagement.
‘Today more than ever, athletes need to be a part of the solution. That is why we call for sport organizations to commit to the active engagement with the athlete and player associations about sport’s response to the current crisis.’ said Paulina Tomczyk, the General Secretary of EU Athletes. ‘This way it can be assured that the fundamental athletes’ rights are respected through a proper decision making process.’
Read the full statement here.
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Following the developments related to the modification of the Olympic Charter’s Bye-law 3 to Rule 40 (Rule 40) and inquiries about its incompatibility with the European Union (EU) law, we would like to underline our opposition to the above-mentioned rule, emphasize our support for the European Commission for protecting athletes’ rights against the abuse and express an openness to a dialogue and negotiations on this matter.
Athletes that we represent are among those that are obliged to comply with Rule 40 in order to compete at the Olympic Games. Following the German Bundeskartellamt ruling earlier this year, it is increasingly clear the Olympic Rule 40 is in breach of the EU competition law. Despite the recent changes, Rule 40 remains unduly restrictive of athletes’ economic rights and their commercial opportunities.
We are strongly of the opinion that Rule 40’s continued excessive restrictions are a result of the flawed decision-making process within the Olympic movement. Independent athlete associations, who do not support Rule 40, were excluded from the process. Mere consultation of athlete commissions, which are a part of the Olympic movement themselves, is unacceptable when it comes to rules that affect all athletes participating at the Olympic Games. By choosing to ignore independent athlete associations, the IOC’s approach is not compatible with the principles of good governance and the fundamental right of freedom of representation.
While the IOC indicates that the athletes should negotiate directly with their National Olympic Committees (NOCs), it is apparent to EU Athletes, and probably the European Commission, that it is Rule 40 itself that is under question as a source of infringement of athletes’ rights. IOC, as the leader of the Olympic Movement and organizer of the Olympic Games, must assure that the athletes’ rights are respected in this context. At the same time, the European Commission has a responsibility to help protect the economic rights of European athletes and is uniquely placed to do so by ensuring that sport organizations comply with EU competition law. It is unacceptable for sport organisations to abuse their dominant positions to pursue their own commercial interests to the detriment of the rights of athletes.
From our side, EU Athletes is committed to advancing the rights of the athletes in Europe and is committed to discussion and negotiation in order to reach a long-term solution that is compatible with the EU law and fundamental rights as well as the interests of the stakeholders.
A meeting organized by the Association des Clubs Professionnels de Volleyball has taken place in Nova Gorica, Slovenia on 15th of November 2019. On the invitation of ACPV, Blagovest Petrov, a former volleyball player and the General Secretary of Spanish Volleyball Players Association (AJJV) was there to represent his organization as well as EU Athletes.
It was an opportunity to talk about the development of player associations in Europe as well as different projects and initiative we are supporting, particularly on dual career and player development. Furthermore, the current volleyball transfer policy and the issues it brings were discussed. We believe that dialogue between all stakeholders are necessary to modify and improve the system which is now in place.
EU Athletes and its member associations representing volleyball players are looking forward to further cooperation with ACPV for the benefit of the athletes and the sport itself.
Since January 2018, EU Athletes has been involved as a parnert the EU-funded project ‘European Social Dialogue Targeted Initiative: Strenghtening social Dialogue in the Professional Basketball Sector’. The project, coordinated by UNI Europa, allowed the player unions representing basketball players to participate in a number of meetings and work together in oder to discuss current issues and challenges, share best practices and learn from each other. Importantly, newly established player associations could also benefit from the knowledge and advice from the more experienced ones.
As the final action of the project which concluded this fall, top level players from 5 player associations (Sporta-Belgium, SNB-France, GIBA-Italy, ABP-Spain, ZZK-Poland) participated in a video where they talked about the reasons to join and to support their unions. While the reasons can be different for everyone, the common message from athletes around the Europe remains: ‘We are stronger together’.